This has been a crazy week for sure. This time one week ago I was arriving in Las Vegas for the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America 2012 Meet and Greet as a board member and speaker. I cannot tell you how excited I was to be there. I was really looking forward to meeting so many of you who listen to my show each week and also to meeting with some of the vendors. There were board members I had never met in person and I couldn’t wait for our face to face board meeting.
The fact that my good friend Cari De La Cruz was going to be my roomie since Ben wasn’t there just added to my excitement. I had my entire weekend totally planned out. I knew how I was going to schedule my time to get to meet with as many of my current and potential sponsors as possible, knew the timing so that I could attend the talks of all of my friends and others I was interested in, and knew when I would be where for the entire weekend.
Boy did I get a BIG wake-up call Friday afternoon that smacked me dead in the face and said “YOU ARE NOT IN CONTROL” I never really thought of myself as a control freak before, but after this past weekend, I have to revisit that thought.
Lesson 1.- WE ARE NEVER AS IN CONTROL AS WE THINK– my plans changed drastically when I was on my way to a meeting with a potential new sponsor and took a major hard fall. Suddenly I could barely walk and had little control over my plans for the weekend. Suddenly there were two meetings for that afternoon that I simply was NOT going to be able to physically make it to and I had to just suck it up and deal with the circumstances. Was I happy about it? Of course not! Could I change it? NOPE.
Two of my dearest friends, Cari De La Cruz and Dr. Connie Stapleton– both from “A Post-op and a Doc”- always talk about living life on life’s terms. Yep, I get it now. After the last five days I totally get it for sure! I actually had to give my talk on crutches! Yvonne McCarthy snapped a picture of that one for me! My first ever talk done on crutches!
Lesson 2.- WE ALL NEED GOOD FRIENDS AND TRUE FRIENDS– I am one of those people who likes to do for others. Sometimes I can be a bit of a “mother hen” and literally get pleasure out of doing for other people. I love to have a house full of guests and see them having a good time and enjoying a nice meal Ben and I have made for them. I love the look on my kids’ faces when we surprise them with something, or the look on a friends’ face when they open a gift that I picked out. I just love seeing people happy in general. I am a sap. I freely admit that.
Letting people do for me is hard. But this past weekend, I had to let people take care of me. I learned so much about how amazing my friends are. When I went to the Friday night function, I was trying so hard to be tough and walk and after being introduced with the rest of the board, I knew I needed to go back to my room. I couldn’t do it. Frank Surace, a very good friend, actually had to prop me up on his arm to get me back to my room. Frank tried to get me a wheelchair but I just couldn’t sit. With Ben not there with me, Frank stepped up and really filled in for the Guru Chef. I truly do not know how I would have gotten back to my room without his assistance. Ben was so grateful for his help. Cari De La Cruz and Connie Stapleton went to the front desk for me, got the EMT to come to the room and once the paramedics got to the hotel, Connie and her husband and Cari stayed at the hospital with me until 2:30 am, knowing they had to speak the next morning. All five of us were functioning on very little sleep Saturday, but all managed to do our talks and I couldn’t even tell that my friends were sleep-deprived.
Here I am about to head to the hospital and I think I am saying something about how I cannot believe I am on a gurney and about to take first ambulance ride in Las Vegas of all places!
Every time I needed food, or had something to carry, my friends were there for me. If Cari had not been my roommate, I do not know how I would have functioned. If Connie and Steve had not gone to get my medicine from the pharmacy, I do not know how I would have managed. I didn’t get to go to the rest of the afternoon talks, as I had to do mine and hobble back up to my room on crutches and take pain meds and sleep so I could do the Disney presentation that evening. I was upset, but hey, it was what it was and I made the best of it. I don’t think there are words I can say that will fully express my gratitude to my friends and all they did for me. I truly love them all.
I laid in my bed Sunday night at the hotel thinking and it hit me- all of these people who were so kind to me- I had just met a year earlier. IN VEGAS! It really hit me that it doesn’t matter how long you have known someone, and that true friendship is not measured in time or years for sure. These people are like my family, s many in the bariatric community are.
All weekend, so many people were offering to help me and expressing kindness and it was really humbling. This is a community of really awesome people.
Lesson 3.- TRANSFER-ADDICTION IS REAL.- The last lesson I took away from Vegas, and the one that I really want all of you to take to heart, is the reality of transfer addiction. Dr. Connie and Cari speak to this issue a lot and I saw some really concerning things during the short amount of time i was able to be at events. When we can no longer use food to numb and comfort that empty place inside, it is easy to find something else to try and take its place. I am seeing that for many that something is alcohol. Now, don’t get me wrong- I am not saying that a post-op should never have a drink. I, myself like to have a cocktail with my husband on special occasions and will usually order a shot of rum and a diet coke separately and can make one shot last all night through three t0 four drinks. What concerns me is when I see people who are bariatric patients literally passed out in the hallways of the hotel, unable to speak, and at a total loss of self-control.
This scares me. It is a really slippery slope and I would just urge all of you in the community to tread with caution in the area of alcohol. All of the empty calories aside, just remember that NOTHING will fill that empty place inside until we get some therapy or talk to someone and find out why it is empty. Food, alcohol, sex, drugs, exercise, shopping, and anything else you can become addicted to, will never fill that hole.
I have one client who literally lost everything. She became so addicted to alcohol three years after her bypass that she lost her husband and kids, her job, her friends, and everything else. My heart broke for her and she is now in therapy and trying to regain control of her life. Her therapist is working on her addictions and I am helping her with the nutrition and exercise and she is making great progress.
We all have worked so hard to get healthy and lose the weight and shake the food addiction, so just be careful not to ruin all of that hard work! please know that I do not talk about this to be preachy or bossy or judgemental, but because I love this community so much and I hate seeing amazing people fall prey to addictive behaviors that can ruin all of the progress you have made in this journey!
Although the weekend didn’t turn out the way I had planned and I didn’t get to spend as much time with all of you as I would like, it was still fun and I still take home a lot of funny memories and laughs and heart-warming moments that remind me why I love this community so very much. Seeing hundreds of you all together in one place celebrating our new healthy lives literally warms my heart and makes me realize way I am so passionate about this community and doing all I can to help this community.
Yep, I am all about the warm fuzzies and seeing all of you together celebrating and laughing and looking for the camera and being confident and happy made the entire weekend worth it for me. I am more convinced than ever that this is a community of strong, confident, and courageous people. Thank you for accepting me as a part of this community through my radio show, conferences, and other programs. I am proud to be one of you!
Thanks to Antonia and the rest of the WLSFA board and volunteers for making this a great event once again!