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|Newsletters: My First Oley Conference|
My First Conference
Lisa Crosby Metzger
I went to the Oley conference in Cape Cod last year as a new staff member, but also with a little personal experience of parenteral nutrition (PN). And while Cape Cod was familiar turf for me, in the last several years conference experiences had become foreign. From the time my oldest child was born until starting at Oley, I’d worked as a free-lance editor; for twenty years it was largely just me, a manuscript, and a red pencil. Going back to working in an office was an adjustment, and with the conference looming before me, I felt overwhelmed by the unknown.
Oley members who consider going to the conference for the first time may feel some similar apprehension. What can you expect at an Oley conference? In my limited experience, it’s busy, but it’s not unmanageable. There’s lots of help, and people everywhere to answer questions. The people I met at the conference were warm, welcoming, and open. This is an exceptional group of people who give so much despite the challenges they face.
And while a full schedule is offered at conference, there is down time. You also always have the option of passing something by if you are just too tired. I was grateful for the opportunity to sit with Oley members at the meals provided and to visit at other events. The opportunities to talk to other members and professionals were abundant. All in all, I was impressed by what a small staff, with the help of incredible volunteers, could accomplish.
Being amongst so many homePEN consumers as someone who was briefly on parenteral nutrition evoked some other, unexpected, deeper reactions from me. I was on PN for about five months during each of two pregnancies. My kids are now young adults (nineteen and twenty-one), and very healthy. I don’t think we would have made it through without PN, but there were times when I didn’t think we’d make it through with PN, either.
A lot happened in the ten months I was on PN. I had apneumothorax, blood transfusions (twice), chest tubes (twice), a line infection, and the cap come off my line once while I was sleeping. During the first several months of my second pregnancy, we had no health insurance. Before the placement of my first line, my obstetrician really seemed to think that I could stop vomiting if I tried (his idea only planted counterproductive feelings of guilt and self-doubt).
It was a tough time for us. But it wasn’t clear to me until last summer that it has been hard for me to let go of some of the difficulties from that time. I’ve had a lot of questions, but I never sought the answers. In fact, I think it’s safe to say I avoided any answers. I was busy raising those kids, and I tried to never look back too deeply.Taking the job with Oley and consequently attending the conference, learning about parenteral and enteral nutrition, and meeting others who have overcome similar—but so much more difficult—circumstances has given me a lot of answers, as well as a welcome perspective on my own experience. I’ve learned that the events that marked my pregnancies were exceptional, and that they weren’t. And I’ve learned to better understand gratitude, true gratitude for all the things that were done right that allowed my two wonderful children entry into this world.
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Oley exhibit at A.S.P.E.N.'s Clinical Nutrition Week