Employers and workers’ comp professionals from all across the nation are heading to Las Vegas today, to attend the 2021 National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference. The conference, live once again after last year’s Covid dominated virtual event, is one of the major national workers’ compensation experiences that bring people together to conduct business, connect with old friends, and make new friends along the way. It is always one of the events to attend. Not only do they offer solid content, but their exhibit hall area is probably the best in the industry. Everyone is there, and that is why everyone simply has to go. 

Except me. I won’t be there. This will be the first national conference I’ve missed in 21 years.

I was supposed to be there, of course. Reservations had been arranged. Appointments had been set. But in a somewhat ramshackle format, Covid was to see that this was not to be. I don’t have Covid, of course, but its influence is difficult to escape these days. It is probably more accurate to say that my knee was a victim of the times, and as a result this morning I am sitting on a couch in my family room, trusty walker to my side, instead of jetting off to the desert to hobnob, wine, and dine.

Heavy sigh.

I was scheduled for a total knee replacement in early September of this year. In August I was advised that, due to rising Covid patient counts in our local hospital, most if not all elective surgeries were being canceled. We remained on a day-by-day basis. But one week before the scheduled surgery, it was canceled. 

Now, attending the national conference at the mammoth Mandalay Bay just six weeks after a total knee replacement would have offered its own challenges. Some people, my wife included, were dubious that it would end well. Still, with a little patience and the assistance of a cane, I would have managed. I would have at least been able to waddle down to one of the many watering holes in Mandalay Bay where people would have been able to buy me drinks and be regaled by my witty personality. As I’ve written before, people really like to buy me drinks at these conferences, and I truly hate to disappoint them. 

No need to thank me. It is a burden, but one that I can endure. Always willing to take one for the team.

As it turns out, Covid counts are falling dramatically in Florida, and they started scheduling surgeries again a couple of weeks ago. When they first called me in late September, they wanted to know if I could do it the following day. I was speaking at two virtual conferences that week, which would have made for very interesting drug-induced presentations. Instead, we looked for the optimal time, and on my schedule, October 12th was the best date available. I have events scheduled every month through the end of the year, and something had to give. If I wanted my new knee anytime soon, my participation at the National Conference would have to be sacrificed. 

It is an odd sensation not being in attendance this year. But that could just be the opioids. Nevertheless, if you are in Vegas this week, please think of me as you navigate the massive Mandalay complex. I am sorry that I am not there for you to buy me drinks, but it will be ok. I’ll be back next year. Don’t worry about me. 

I still have the opioids.

(Editor’s note: Bob actually is largely dependent on Extra Strength Tylenol for his pain management regimen, electing to forgo heavy narcotic use due to their well-known negative effects. We include this acknowledgment with the understanding that while Bob has a sense of humor, he recognizes that a few of you may not. He is kidding.)


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