So, after returning from Vegas and sleeping my entire weekend away I will tell you the truth about Las Vegas. It wore me out. It all sounds fun and glamorous going to the City of Sin for a bariatric conference, but there is so much work involved.
Setting up a booth and taking it down, standing on my feet in high heels for a week, trying to eat somewhat vegetarian after WLS in Vegas, and speaking with all those Bariatric Surgeons and staff members has surely taken it’s toll on me.
While in Vegas, I did not nourish my body the way I should. I did not drink enough water, I did not eat enough protein, although I did get plenty of sleep at night and took my vitamins. When I arrived home, my potassium was low, I was dehydrated and I had a slight flare up of kidney stones and a UTI. That landed me in urgent care and it sucked and could have been avoided if I would have nourished my body. It was all due to choices I made. I did not drink alcohol (well thats not exactly true, I did order a beer that came in a huge bottle and I poured a glass and drank half a glass) in Las Vegas, but I did not drink enough water either. ($9 a bottle there) WE had a water machine in our booth at Celebrate Vitamins (Thanks Vic, so I have no excuse) but even with that I did not drink enough during the day.
This is my fourth year at ASMBS and my fourth year of coming home with blisters worn on my feet, Huge Blisters that are not only on the back of my heel, but also the top of my foot and my pinky toes along with the blisters on the bottom. Two different vendors gave me ointments for my feet, but the blisters hurt are still there. A good lesson learned, anything that smells like Ben Gay will burn an open sore, don’t do it. I did actually wear my shoes this year, most of you know I spend my time at ASMBS barefoot usually, and this year I was 4 inches taller LOL.
I will probably be writing about this trip for a month. It has impacted me that much.
This was one of the BIGGEST ASMBS yet. There were around 3,000 people involved in the event. Everyone from Press, Vendors, Surgeons and their staff, presenters and this year… PATIENTS! That’s right we have a new bariatric world out there called bloggers and many of them attended the events this year to blog about ASMBS. Like Romper Room, I spy.. MELTING MAMA (oh she is famous walking around and people pointing saying HEY THATS MELTING MAMA) Beth Sheldon Badore, Shan In Real Life * Shannon Watts, Suze* Susan Maria, Bariatric Girl * Yvonne McCarthy, Gastric Bypass Barbie * Cari , and me… I AM Teresa who Celebrates the Dreamer in YOU. Many more I am sure, and I am sorry if I left anyone out, it is not intentional.
I imagine there might be some mixed feelings about this as it is an event that has always and still is closed and available for bariatric staff and surgeons. Bariatric Barbie did a great video explaining this for her blog, and Melting Mama (Beth) wrote a great article that explains as well in her blog. I have been fortunate that for the past 4 years I as a patient have been able to attend as a vendor. Then I would rush home and blog about the event. Matter of fact that is where my first big blogging experience came from before that I had a little journal on ObesityHelp.com (and yes a shout out to the OH crew)
In 2006 I was invited to the ASMBS by a bariatric company that I shopped from and had established a close friendship and bond with the owner. The trip itself facilitated a huge opportunity for me to grow as a person, and to learn many life lessons. It led to a job and a “change” to move from the spot I was stuck in my own life. Thank you, to those who made that possible.
It was a huge deal for me and honestly having attention from someone I looked at as famous only made things more glamorous. In my personal journey I found that I was always searching for love and attention, only I was searching outside of my self for that. I fell in love with the MGM Grand hotel, I was from WBGV and had never seen anything like it. Each morning I would wake up and sit in the window seat that I called Dolly’s Corner. (I had a habit of sticking myself in the corner). I also feel in love with someone paying attention to me. It was a great big ego booster. Unfortunately, stroking my ego, sometimes stunts my growth.
Back then, I had not traveled much. Matter of fact my flight to Las Vegas in 2006 was my first time on a plane. I was 36 years old and for the most part had driven outside of WV only twice, and that was to Dollywood and Myrtle Beach. My career consisted of many years of floor nursing as an LPN and I was in school to become a BSN. At 2 1/2 years post op, I was sure excited to be invited to the ASMBS, say nothing about the excitement of Vegas. Vegas held many of my firsts. It was my first time flying, first post op alcoholic drink, first time gambling, first time having a Rolex on my wrist, first time that I had taken a stand and did something outside the box “prison walls” I had confined myself to. I realized on that trip, I stayed in Hell, because I knew the names of the streets, I had gotten passive. It was easier to face hell each day, then to face and figure out the NEW.
Now, with all that being said, I can tell you the wide eyed excitement I viewed Las Vegas to be back then has changed somewhat. In those days, being at goal and 2 1/2 years post op, I could not even begin to explain the excitement and how the sounds of slot machines, smell of smoky casinos, and the miles and miles of bars and restaurants could even remotely impact me as a post op. Fact is, Las Vegas is the mecca sin city that holds the keys for many post op addictions.
My first trip instilled thoughts of my own Rolex, sparkling Drinks with Raspberry flavors, sparkly purses, and bright city lights. Once I left there, my child like eyes moved to a place of trying to figure out how I could make these things mine. Problem is, who has these things everyday? Because I didn’t have them and could not figure out a plan to get them right away, I had already deemed myself not good enough.
How could I be good enough? Speaking in a country accent, wearing no shoes half the time, and buying my clothes at the bargain store…. already I was discounting myself and I hadn’t even joined the game. (This is a pattern I seen to create over and over and over….)
My second trip to Vegas, I believe was in July 2008. I say I believe, because I really don’t remember much about that trip. I had unfortunately been bitten a little by the transfer addiction bug. Drinking more than I should in Vegas, and feeling really horrible about myself, left me with little memory of the trip. Unfortunately, the trip was a celebration for post ops, and I was sinking in a serious transfer addiction of alcohol and all the while attempting to smile. Now, often I would justify my drinks by saying “I deserve this drink” well, I learned real quick to be careful what I say. My words have power and the last thing I needed was to become an alcoholic, after all I had worked so hard to move from the food addiction and move from a bad marriage. The last thing I needed at that point was to repeat a co-dependent pattern and rely on booze. Please realize I am not bragging about my drinks, or saying that it is ok to drink. I am just shedding light on a post op issue that is sometimes vailed and denied. You see I did not want to become addicted to alcohol, just like I did not WANT to become obese. The fact was I was heading down a slippery slope. Don’t be mislead into thinking there is a perfect post op drink. As post ops we are vulnerable to drinking, we are also vulnerable to post op transfer addictions. They are real, do not deny them.
How often people say.. I WILL NEVER GAIN WEIGHT AGAIN, I COULD NEVER BE ADDICTED TO DRINKS.. it happens. BELIEVE it.
I often wonder how many people could see beyond my smile and see the real pain I felt inside.
Now this last trip was different the airport came into my view while I rode down the escalator the first thing I saw was a huge Jumbotron that said “The Circle of Life” (how appropriate as I was closing a circle on parts of my life and rebirthing into a new life I would create for myself) an ad for the Lion King show. Then I looked around and saw things as they are. People dressed in fancy sparkly dresses, Limo drivers waiting to drive people to their hotels. sparkly lights and sounds from the slot machines DING DING DING.. I wonder if the people even take time to breathe. YOU won’t believe how many kids I saw in Vegas. Little kids, I thought of my grandbabies back in WV. I am living my life NOW, but not sedating myself, I have too much to live for and just opening my heart and thinking of those babies reminds me so.
Before I could even get to my hotel, while riding the shuttle bus the driver asked me for a date. I don’t know but I imagine that was pretty unprofessional. I did not know him, he did not know me. We didn’t know each others name, and I am pretty sure he was probably about 25-30 years older than me. It was just odd, now at one point in my life, I would have felt bad for saying no, even guilty, and made excuses. This time I just looked at him and said no. Even though he was singing Italian songs to me in a beautiful accent, I could see the BIGGER picture.
Walking through the Aria, I realized every transfer addiction known to post ops could be found without leaving the hotel. Smoke filled casinos with alcohol and calling cards for escorts that come to YOU. Shopping everywhere, and the FOOD.
Las Vegas= Mecca of Sin + Sparkly Transfer addiction
Don’t get me wrong, there is life to be lived everywhere, even in Las Vegas. (Bellagio fountains, botanical gardens, and beautiful artwork) But I suppose the key factor is to be aware of what is going on around you and see things for what they really are. Be conscious of your decisions. You know, its one thing to sleep through life, but at times we are not just sleeping, we are unconscious.
This trip was a gift, to show me what is important in my life. However, each trip was a gift, to move me along in life and show me lessons I needed to learn. From each trip I have grown and learned and I am stronger now. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.
Coming full circle with Las Vegas was not an easy road, it took four years to complete this part of my journey. In those four years, I have done a lot of work on me, a lot of self talks, a lot of therapy both with a therapist in an office and by writing my closest personal feelings in a journal. Working through my life’s issues has been painful, but rewarding.
There was much sleeping going on for me on my red eye flight home, and honestly I slept most of the weekend. While I did not nourish my body physically, I took in a lot of lessons and nourishment for my soul… and needed time to digest it all.
Be well, be love and be loved,