I recently spent four days in Las Vegas. I was there for an academic conference. But since I had never been to Vegas before, I tried to have a bit of fun, as well.
There were two ways to treat this Vegas trip. The first was like many of the blowhards who were attending the conference – to totally and completely hate Vegas without really experiencing it. Or to go full tilt and experience Vegas, and love it or hate, but coming to that conclusion in an “educated” manner.
(I’ll admit that it was slightly ironic to be presenting about being chronically ill against the backdrop of a place that is so much the antithesis of that)
And then there’s the reality of my chronically ill life.
While I had fun, I paid a price.
There was a bit of drinking (not much by Vegas standards because my tolerance is low because I drink so rarely now; see picture at the end of this post) and gambling, a bit of hot pink feathered hair extension debauchery (good for the next three to six months; see picture at the beginning of this post (and I’ll admit, I’m totally digging it)), and overall, a bit of wearing scandalous clothes and impossibly high heels. Throw in a Cirque show and some shopping, and you pretty much have a quintessential Vegas experience. Tame by many standards. Apparently, not tame enough for me, so my body now tells me.
But we’ve all got to let loose every once in a while, right?
I learned an important lesson. Vegas is not for me, and I suspect, not for many chronically ill people.
Vegas is just too much of everything.
First off, everywhere you turn is another opportunity to be totally overstimulated. It’s exhausting trying to keep up with the sights and the sounds and everything else.
The heat was horrible. The temperature averaged 105 degrees for each of the days I was there. You would walk a block and be soaking with sweat, not to mention completely parched. Although, for me, one unintended consequence is that the heat may have saved my joints from an even more untimely demise.
Going outside to the heat and inside to the full blown air conditioning, and going to bed late made me feel completely run down and exhausted. Not only was I eating at crazy times, but more healthful choices aren’t easy to come by in Sin City. The portions were ginormous. Honestly, I couldn’t wait to come home, and get back to real life. I need consistency to stay as well as possible, and if Las Vegas is anything, it is definitely not consistent.
I had overextended my hip a bit in kickboxing earlier last week, and as my time in Vegas progressed, it only got worse. Las Vegas is a place where you can’t really avoid walking around. And like everything else, the walking is just too much.
I finally caved and took a Prednisone because the pain was wearing on me. I was getting short with people, and I realized that it wasn’t something they could understand. Unless you’ve experienced pain where you can literally feel bone grinding against bone, you can’t begin to imagine the wherewithal it takes to power through it.
While the Prednisone greatly improved my hip pain, two days later, and I am already seeing the effects on my face. The cystic acne is back. And as much as it’s unsightly, it’s so painful. This is just one reminder of why I hadn’t taken Prednisone in months before I took it the other day.
I got some pretty severe blisters on the top of my feet from my shoes rubbing the wrong way walking through the airport. I hoped maybe the Prednisone would aid in healing, but the blisters are open and raw. It kind of looks like a dinosaur took a bite out of my foot. And you know, maybe one did. I’ll never tell. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Or so “they” say…
I guess it’s fitting that my return to Prednisone, even it was only a momentary lapse (I hope), happened in Vegas, because Vegas is life on steroids.
While “healthy” behavior is not espoused in Vegas, it’s clear to me that the smoke and heat and walking involved and the late nights are meant for a crowd who are “healthy” by “normal people” standards.
The thing is, this whole experience brings up the fact that I’m 26 years. Wanting to explore Vegas like other people my age isn’t so pie-in-the-sky. But the reality is, by virtue of my illnesses, I have limitations. And I definitely overdid things. But it was hard not to.
For me, it was just too much. I felt overwhelmed. And now I feel pretty jetlagged and awful, and am trying to recover. I also made the severe mistake of taking the red eye home. It probably would have been fine if I wasn’t already exhausted, and then was put through the ringer by security. I left Vegas at 11:15 p.m. Vegas time, 2:15 a.m. my time, and arrived in Detroit at 6:05 a.m. The plane was cold, so I was pretty stiff and in pain by the end of the flight.
I’m glad that my summer traveling is finally coming to an end. I’m exhausted.
So viva, LV NV!
Or maybe it’s more of ADIOS, LV NV. I’ve had my fill, won’t be missing you, and probably won’t be coming back any time soon. However, I will say that I could never really have fully understood what Las Vegas was actually like without experiencing it firsthand. So I’m glad for that, and now it’s back to reality.