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How Bad Is It ?

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I know this is easier said than done, but try not to panic over bumps in the road. What looks or feels catastrophic today is probably not as bad as it seems. That’s what my mom used to say when I was growing up and despondent about something (which was often, especially during adolescence). I was strangely comforted by her words because I knew (and she frequently reminded me) that Mom had seen some pretty bad stuff in her life.

It's easy to "awfulize" things when you have a pain, symptom or experience you didn't expect and can't explain. You're sure that's something's wrong. You haven't lost weight in three days, or you found hair clogging your shower drain, or you puked up your dinner. Don't let fear cloud your thinking. You will wear yourself to a frazzle if every event becomes a crisis.

This applies to many aspects of your life. It's extremely difficult to make a good decision when you're in a panic. Your vomiting might be related to WLS, but it could also be the result of a garden-variety intestinal bug. Your teenaged daughter's failure to return your phone call could be because she was in a terrible car accident, or it could be because her cell-phone battery died.

So ask yourself:

Is this an emergency? Is it life-threatening, disabling, or just inconvenient? What will happen if I don't do something about it right now?

Can I deal with this myself, or do I need help? What kind of help (medical, emotional, spiritual, financial)?

Who can help me (my surgeon, therapist, best friend, minister)? Be careful how you choose your helper(s). I know you love your sister, who might tell you that everyone in her family has been sick with a bug since you saw them (and their germs) on Sunday, but she probably can’t accurately tell you whether your symptoms are related to your WLS.

Is whatever you fear might be wrong really, truly the very worst thing you could hear? I’ve survived some scary and disappointing stuff during my WLS journey. I’ll probably never forget hearing my surgeon say, “Jean, your band has to go,” and “Jean, I removed your band but I wasn’t able to do your sleeve revision today because of a stricture in your esophagus.”

I’ve also gotten bad news about friends who are fellow WLS patients. I mean really, really bad news, when death was reaching out its evil hands to take my friend away forever.

In my own life, nothing can top losing a parent. “Jean, your mother died today,” is (so far) the worst bad news I’ve ever heard. A cancer diagnosis, the death of my husband, or the loss of my home to a tornado (entirely possible where I live) would also be mighty devastating. But if I dwelled on those possibilities, I’d spend the rest of my life in anxious misery, and I’m pretty sure that’s not what God has in mind for me.

I'm not saying that your struggles aren't important. They are. But it will be easier for you to handle them if you do it with a clear mind and a calm heart. So take a deep breath. And when in doubt, call your surgeon.

Jean, thanks as always for your wisdom. It’s always easy to see why you’ve done so well with the band and sleeve – you are positive and smart.

Thanks for this reminder that it’s (probably) not that bad, whatever it is. You’re right – it feels devastating when we’re told there’ll be a few months of delay because of some complication or other, but does it really matter? Probably not. Just accept and deal with it…and you give really good tips for doing so. And ask your surgeon – great advice!

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