The cliché is that getting married is one of the happiest days of your life. I won’t say that it wasn’t happy eventually, but it was insanely challenging.
I wake up in the hotel bed, then as the excitement and emotion wash over me I begin to feel ILL. The nausea pours over me like a huge wave and I’m soon sitting on the bathroom tile, draped face first over the toilet. Next I get the shakes and pounding heart. My pulse is now well over a hundred as I try laying back down in bed. I can’t eat anything. I want to cry, but as often happens in an attack my body can’t seem to find the resources… it’s as if it’s too busy surviving. I probably should go to the ER, because I feel like I need it and all I want is to be delivered from this hellish experience, but I’ve invested so much time into planning this day, and people have flown in from out of town and everyone is ready. Everyone except me. I’m not ok, but I feel that if we try to get married again later, my body will just repeat the same freak out, because anything beyond banal emotions are triggers these days. I swallow a benadryl and my beta blocker. Unfortunately this is before my doctors say to take Xanax for an attack. I’m left to decide to brute force myself to get as far as I can.
I want to cry, but as often happens in an attack my body can’t seem to find the resources… it’s as if it’s too busy surviving.
My soon-to-be-husband, Dave, supports my weight to help me walk down to our villa on the other side of the hotel. It’s so difficult to stand or walk. Since it’s also pouring rain outside (very uncommon for La Jolla), we can’t have our wedding at the beach, so the venue is moving to our “honeymoon” villa. My hair and makeup ladies Kirsten and Katie will be arriving soon along with our families. I lay down on the bed with a comforting plastic bag in my fist for any stomach lurches and wait. Always, just waiting for time to pass, waiting for the suffering to relent. Next thing I know my mom pops through the door with the hair and makeup team, and I start explaining how bad I feel. To my massive relief they are empathetic and calming. They help me lean back in an armchair as they begin making me look vibrant. They do a brilliant job… if I pull my face into a smile you would never know how desperately awful I truly feel. It looks like the best day of my life.
My mom tries to get me to eat some toast. I’m able to keep some juice down and that’s about it. I’m touched by how everyone from the officiant to the photographers are so accommodating and reassuring. It’s exactly what I need. Kirsten and Katie went a world beyond by figuring out how to make the little villa look amazing for our tiny wedding, because this whole rainy weather thing wasn’t planned for. All that’s left for me to do was pose for some photos, get hugs and say my vows. I start believing that I can really pull this off. I go outside for a first look and relish the bear hug from Dave. He couldn’t believe I was able to climb the stairs to see him. Despite my torturous body, I was smiling.
I walk myself into the ceremony, even with my toes turning white and numb. I hold Dave’s hands, and see my family watching over me, my mom wiping away her tears. After exchanging the vows and rings- it’s done- we are married. It feels like I won, and somehow at that point the nausea has slunk away and I’m just feeling weak, but relieved and despite it all- happy. We cancel the dinner and instead just serve cake beautifully arranged on the credenza. I watch everyone toast and drink champagne. The families mingle. Dave helps me get down to the beach literally right across the street for the last of our photos. The lingering adrenaline is keeping me going. Soon after, everyone parts and leaves, making it feel like I just woke from a strange twisted dream.
I’m finally able to eat something late in the evening, and we spend the rest of our time listening to the sound of the stormy ocean, then admittedly watching HBO until we both pass out. The next couple days, I’m fatigued and exhausted, but it’s a beautiful place to be a mess. Our last night there, we finally go swimming in the warm pool with the cool dark night overhead and I’m grateful. There’s nothing like deep contrast to turn seemingly simple things into the most precious ones.
Here are some credits for the brilliant team that pulled me through:
Photography c/o La Vida Creations
Officiant Jason Nathan
Hair & Makeup Makeup Artist on the Go