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Getting Married with POTS

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

Published in Personal Stories


  1. Hi! This was an amazing read and all too relatable. I was wondering if I could share your blog on mine (obviously with saying and showing that it’s yours!)? Getting married was always a worry of mine and my husbands because I have POTS, lupus and fibromyalgia. Every day, or minute for that matter, my health can change instantly. My husband actually did something amazing and surprised me with a proposal and actually asked me after the proposal in private if we wanted to get married right then because our closest family and friends were there. It was great because I had the adrenaline from the Proposal and also I was feeling decent that day. (So our guests ended up being pretty surprised too). But I’d love to show people what a wedding with an illness like ours really is like and why my husband planned what hedid (and why I said yes to that night). Like you, I knew planning would be stressful and I’d never know if I’d feel ok the day of. Thanks again for the awesome article!

  2. kt kt

    “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.”

    Truer words could not have been spoken. I’ve often expressed this sentiment to those closest to me; it’s nice to see that others get it- that you, even if a stranger, get it. I’m glad you highlighted that particular quote as it’s important to acknowledge. Being that it was your wedding day, there’s almost a sort of irony there…you’re struggling to process your emotions on a day that is recognized as one of the most emotional days of a person’s life. Reality, though, can’t paint a one size fits all picture of what this looks like for everyone. Everyone’s ‘fairy tale’ looks different. 🤷 Some may also say, “Hey isn’t your wedding day the one day you’re supposed to focus on your spouse and not yourself? My current boyfriend has told me, “I feel like I’m in it more than you are…” And my response was, “You’re right. I’m sick. You are in it more.” But it doesn’t mean I won’t try to be emotionally and physically available when I have the ‘resources’.

    • brandy brandy

      Hi! Sorry your comment slipped by me earlier this year! Yes, I completely get it. I’m so happy to hear from you guys and know I’m not alone in this weird POTS crazyland. Did you guys already have your wedding I wonder?!

      Actually we were really close to just doing a courthouse ceremony, something that was really easy to just reschedule and cancel. Family schedules and my dream of having a little bit more of a romantic small event sidetracked me. I ended up with beautiful photos and an event that felt more true to me and what I envisioned as a healthy person but it was frankly a very hard experience. I’m not sure given my new body that it much avoidable though. That trigger for intense emotions kicks in and I’m off on that wild ride. Then again.. xanax? I’ll never know. Wishing you the best!!

  3. I came across your blog while searching for articles about cromolyn and saw this post. I have POTS and got married back in 2015 (in Encinitas – I’m in southern CA, too). My husband and I planned a simple wedding to account for my illnesses – only invited 24 people, the ceremony included a poetry reading so I could sit down for a minute while my sister read, and there was a break between the ceremony and reception. I woke up with a migraine that day, and while it eventually improved, it wasn’t the happiest day of my life. It’s unfortunate that what should be a fairytale day isn’t always so, but I think all of us with health challenges have to keep remembering that all that matters at the end of the day is we get to marry the person we love.

    Very glad I found your website. I look forward to reading more!

    • brandy brandy

      Hi Lindsay! How’s the cromolyn treating you? I actually remember coming across your blog a few years back! I didn’t know you were in the area… I have to follow you btw! Well, sounds like you had a nice low key event too, and I’m glad your migraine mercifully improved. I actually was dealing with one when you posted your comment and ended up at Scripps Green… POTS! Anyway, yeah, the wedding was such a mixed experience for me, and I did have to do some EMDR for it truth be told. There’s so little control we have with this illness, there’s a whole lot of just letting it go and seeing what happens. Surrender I guess? Ultimately I’m glad it happened, that I survived it, and that it’s overrrr. If weddings were this hard for everyone, I think the divorce rate would plummet. <3

      • Scripps Green! Their urgent care is my usual migraine go-to place. Or at least it used to be. I’m fortunately that I rarely get 4+ day migraines anymore. I hope yours has improved. Who do you see locally for your POTS?

        Cromolyn has been very helpful for me. I am fortunate that I only have mild MCAS, but have awful “seasonal” (with all seasons) allergies, and the cromolyn has helped with all of that. I have been lazy lately about taking cromolyn and need to start again.

        Thanks for responding to my comment 🙂

        • brandy brandy

          Hi! I see Dr Ahern for POTS, and Dr White for MCAS…. they seem to think my symptoms are mostly POTS at this point. My MCAS seems to be really mild too, and I’ve also been struggling to take all my cromolyn every day.. so many vials, not much time with an empty stomach. Would you like to chat by email!? Hope it’s been a decent week for you!

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