Anyone who lives in hurricane or tornado country knows that the time to get their emergency kit of food, water, flashlights and first-aid supplies together is long before the storm season starts. That way, they are prepared should an emergency strike, and they don’t have to waste valuable time looking for the essentials in the midst of a crisis.
That’s also the way it needs to be when it comes to assembling your “life emergency kit.” We WLS patients are a special group that has made a choice to radically alter our bodies, which in turn can change the way we relate to people and situations. Our physical and emotional needs are very different post-op than they were pre-op. As I have said often, we are “wired differently”, and that difference means we have to prepare ourselves to survive the special storms that may be headed our way.
Our life storms take the form of temptations to eat the wrong things, or too much of the right things. The storms also encompass emotional peaks and valleys triggered by both the physiological changes our bodies are adjusting to, as well as the psychological ones. We really are
different from everyone else, and if we’re not managing the fact that we are different, we could be caught off-guard. Like people who live in storm country, we need to recognize the potential dangers of our environment and have a plan in place prior to when the clouds roll in.
Do you know where your emotional first-aid kit is right now? Do you have a network of fellow post-op partners you can depend on to gather around and protect you from a storm? Can you reach out and contact someone any time, day or night, when you feel threatened, alone or depressed? If the answer is “No”, you need to start building that network right now. There won’t be time when the dark clouds are gathering.
Maybe you think you don’t know anyone else in your situation. Maybe you think you’re the only person who experiences food temptations, yo-yo emotions and a sense of loneliness that comes from being a stranger in a thin world. If you’re thinking that, I’ve got good news: You’re not going to die from terminal uniqueness.
You have an entire network of people just like you, and they come together online and in person to offer one another encouragement, guidance and support. You can find a group of them every day at 10am and 8pm Central time in the Gastric Bypass Chat Room
. You can hear their thoughts and join in the conversation anytime in the forums at Weight Loss Surgery Forums
. All the friends you could ever need are reading this same newsletter. Your support group exists; reach out now, while the sun is still shining, and get to know your emergency rescue team.
While you are building your network, remember that others are trying to build theirs. Help is a two-way street. Be a friend, and you’ll attract friends. Offer to help a stranger, and a stranger will reach out to help you. As the children of the 60s used to say, “What goes around comes around”. And as the good book tells us, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”.
There’s more to putting together your life emergency kit than building a network. There are discipline issues related to everything from finances to meal planning and exercise routines, for which there are what I like to call “recovery tools”. We’ll take a closer look at these tools in the next issue. Until then, you’ve got a network to build. See you in the chat room!