Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Other Side of Las Vegas

In June 2002 my husband and I went to Las Vegas, Nevada for a brief weekend trip. And so the story begins...

I was walking from air-conditioned car to air-conditioned hotel to air-conditioned anything... I simply couldn't handle the heat and I didn't know why. One step in the heat, then I would vomit. 

One bite of food and then I would get the same reaction. It was horrid, to say the least. I pretty much stayed in the dark hotel room with the AC unit ramped high. 

We quickly decided to head home, and I think it was the morning we were going to leave that we went to breakfast. Well, Josh went to breakfast. I put food on my plate and stared at it, wondering how long it would stay down. I was so hungry that I eventually caved and took a bite, then two, then three then... RUN! 

While in the restroom, I was kneeling, practically face-planted in the water of the toilet bowl, gasping for air in between a mixture of dry heaves and a complete...unleashing. 

It was at the moment of the long awaited sixty-second relief with no vomit and actual breathing when a woman outside the bathroom stall spoke to me and asked, "Are you okay dear?" 

Then came my gasping labored lie of "uh-huh". She was so kind and didn't give up, as she offered, "can I get you some water?" In my selfish, embarrassed state I replied weakly "no, thank you". 

What the woman said next has remained fixed in my memory since that time. 

In an extremely heartfelt tone she said, "Ma'am, I know you are having a hard time in there, but you need to know that you are worth more than this. God loves you. You need to stop torturing yourself this way. I don't know you, but I do know that you are worth so much more than this. We were given food to feed the body and scripture to feed the soul. God loves you. I'll pray for you." 

All I had energy to utter at the time, between my labored breathing and still dripping mouth, while tears were now flowing was a  feeble, "thank you."

After this the woman left and a short time later my stomach settled and I was able to return to my husband. I relayed to him the story of what had happened and neither of us really knew what to think about that situation. 

Obviously the woman thought I was bulimic or something. There were several women who walked in and out of the restroom while I was in there; but only one asked if I needed help. 

This experience has really stuck with me though. Here's why I am sharing it with you:
  • This June I will be heading to Las Vegas for a conference. 
  • This June will make it ten years since that last experience. I am returning, fully intending on having a very different... less projectile vomiting...experience this go-around.
  • When the vomit monster hit me ten years ago, it was due to complications of how my body was responding to heat at that time. We also now know that Multiple Sclerosis was the culprit.
  • My life has become much better regardless of the presence of disease and seasonal heat.
  • This was a tremendous display of human kindness from one stranger to another who was apparently in great distress. 
  • Even though the stranger got the situation all wrong, her response was still perfect. 
It's the last two points I want to focus on here. A stranger could see that there was something wrong and did her best to help in the only way she knew how, which was to reaffirm that:
  • I'm worth more.
  • I am my own worst enemy.
  • What we do to or put into our body has consequences, which may indeed be all wrong for us, causing us great harm.
  • What we do to fuel our soul through this life is just as important as how we fuel our body.
  • Getting through this life may require reliance on another person's faith and effort on our behalf; even strangers.
  • God loves us.
Believe me when I say that I never imagined I would go to "Sin City" expecting to hear a stranger preaching in the name of Sunday to me; especially while vomiting in a bathroom stall and then having that experience stick with me for the rest of my life. 

But there you have it. She spoke absolute truth. I sincerely do believe that she prayed for me. How often do we leave situations when we can see that another is in need, yet we fail to share the essentials as noted above?

This is an excellent example of what drives and motivates me today. You see, I know now that I am indeed worth more. I'm tired of being  doubled over with the burden of being my own worst enemy. 

I am trying earnestly to really care about what I feed myself physically and spiritually, so that my body is as strong as it can be for what God wants me to do, to be. 

I need all within the sound of my voice and within reach of my virtual pen to pray for me; lending me strength and faith when I otherwise wouldn't have any. When all is said and done, I still know that God loves me - that's all that really matters anyway.

I'm so thankful that ten years ago I got to see the other side of Las Vegas. Thanks to a has made all the difference.


  1. Aww what a great story. I love that you understood that she meant well in asking if you were ok, but she was a little nutso giving you a lecture about puking!

    I hope your trip is uneventful and fun. We were in Puerto Rico in Feb, and I had the chest cold from hell. It so sucks to be sick on vacation!

  2. Thanks! I'm sure I will post about my next Las Vegas adventure. I hope you have fully recovered from the chest cold. Ugh!