I can't beleive after all the planning the weekend is actually here, and that we have had so much amazing support from so many company's. Here are just some of the companies that have provided some amazing support.
I still have a little to do this morning, nothing major, just a couple of calls to make and to type up some thoughts about the segment I am presenting, which is just surrounding the possible formation of a national organisation that provides support and resources for all things Weight Loss Surgery.
Some of the things that I want to bring up during this is that by having a national organisation we can hopefully have a strong support network, which help provide insight into the realities of WLS through all of the stages - good & bad. Having a national magazine like Obesity Help which celebrates our decision to "lead healthier lives with Weight Loss Surgery" or the National Association for Weight Loss Surgery (NAWLS) who suport and encourage with online forums and daily emails to keep you motivated and on track.
Products- I would so love to be able to get more top quality bariatric products here. Obviously if we can source good local products such as Eatme Protein Shakes, then brilliant, but where there is not the availability being able to buy these in easily would be fantastic.
Funding - this of course is a touchy subject, but my main concern is not if Weight loss Surgery should be funded or to what level but that any level of funding should be consistant throught the country. eg, if funding is available under 1 DHB it should be available under all. To quote Mark Sainsbury from "Close Up" - "It shouldn't matter where you live dictating IF you live". We Need consistancy.
Funding of Blood tests - currently in some DHB's the follow up blood tests requested by our surgeons to make sure that we are getting the right levels of nutrition are charged - once again consistancy issues arise.
Supplements - As bariatric or weight loss surgery patients we need great quality supplements. We do have access to the standard supplements through the health system and for most that is okay, however for me, I would love to be able to have access to supplements that are designed for my system and how I process it. If I never have to have another calcium carbonate "horse pill" it will be too soon. I would much rather have one of the chewable calcium from the companies like Bariatric Advantage or Celebrate Vitamins. The problem at the moment is getting it into the country easily. I hope by having a national organisation we can act as a distributor for these companies which would mean savings on the cost to get them shipped here as we could buy in "bulk".
A United Voice - for me this is really important. Every year more and more of us are having Weight Loss Surgery, infact in 2003 between New Zealand and Australia there was just 2750 operations in that year. In 2008 that number increased to 11914. That is an increase of 433% in just 5 short years. I wonder how much that has increased in just the last two years. As a WLS patient I beleive that it should not just be the surgeons who stand up and say why Weight Loss Surgery is such great tool and what benefits it can have to our health. I hear from people who are "anti" weight loss surgery that when they see or hear the surgeons promoting or defending weight loss surgery that they "only want more money". Now I know that some people are not public about their Weight Loss Surgery and that is a personal decision which I respect, however for those of us who are public, should it not be us who tell the world how Weight Loss surgery has been for us, and how much impact it has had on our lives? Maybe if we had a national organisation we could be the ones that the media come to for a balanced view.
Promotion - Events such as the "walk from obesity" campaign in the US. I would love to see events like that here. Basically they are sponsored walks which help fundraise to continue research into obesity and includes support from all forms of the Weight Loss Community, whether it be Surgery or not. It may be a great way to show that for some of us, Weight loss surgery was the BEST tool for us.
I guess one of the major reasons for me though, is to "celebrate my decision to lead a healthier live with the tool that is Weight Loss Surgery" and to have events like our first Meet & Greet, and the monthly support meetings. They keep me on track (mostly) and keep me motivated to keep picking myself up if I fall off the wagon.....eventually I will learn how to stay on the damn thing.
That is just some of the points that I will be raising as part of the discussion segment of the weekend when we have the Associate Minister of Health - Tariana Turia attending as well.
How I am going to start my presentation is with a video that was sent to me today from a lovely lady in the US who is such an inspiration. Her name is Cari, and she is adorable. This just highlights that we are just part of a global Weight Loss Surgery Community, and that no matter where in the world you are, this tool is pretty damn amazing.
I will try and get some video and pictures of the weekend, I am conscious that not everyone is public and therefore need to get permission for both, especially as I will be posting on here and on you tube and facebook.