I had the flu the week of our wedding.
Not really the optimal time to be simultaneously running a fever and running to the bathroom, but hey, when life gives you lemons, you take a lot of medicine that makes you gain seven pounds of water weight.
This is a story about it.
The weekend before our wedding I was feeling under the weather. It was our niece's second birthday and we were scheduled to drive to Port Aransas to celebrate with family and friends. But when I woke up Friday morning with a screaming sore throat, I figured I'd better not risk getting more sick around a herd of toddlers, or worse, giving my nine-month-pregnant future sister-in-law whatever disastrous cold I had, right before she gave birth.
As Eric went on to the coast without me, I laid in bed, re-watched The Office on Netflix for the sixteenth time and cruised in and out of a deep sleep for most of the next forty-eight hours. I wish it was a restful experience, but when you're running a fever and falling asleep to the voice of Dwight Schrute, it makes for some pretty terrifying nightmares. When I woke up for the third day in a row from feverish dreams and to sweat-soaked sheets, regardless of the thermostat set to 65 degrees, I knew it was time to take some real action.
Monday morning, I dragged myself to the nearest Urgent Care facility. Luckily, in Houston, there is one every other block. I could have walked to the one by my house, but as I could barely trudge down the stairs without looking (and feeling) like I just ran a marathon, I figured it was best to drive. This Urgent Care office knows me by now, due to another embarrassing moment - which I will get to another time. The nurse at the front desk looked at me like, "again?" and not-so-discretely backed away from me as I approached the sign-in sheet by her station.
I put my name down, paid my co-pay and found a seat by the tissues. I didn't know why at the time, but there was no doctor available to see me for quite a while, and I waited for what felt like hours. As I was dozing off in my double-wide size waiting room chair (hey, Houston!), I was finally called back to triage and then to my exam room. As I have been here numerous times before, and recently to boot, I was surprised that I didn't recognize the doctor that finally greeted me. She was a nice woman, and when I explained that I was getting married in six days and that I really didn't want to be sweating in my wedding dress or vomiting at the altar in between vows, she said she would "fix me up".
She came back with a diagnosis of flu and sinus infection and sent me on to Walgreens with a myriad of prescriptions and instructions. Now, I am no stranger to a good, old fashioned sinus infection but I didn't recognize any of the medicines that were prescribed for me. But I was desperate to feel better before the Big Day so I didn't question it. I piked up my pills, headed home, and took the first dosages as directed.
Almost immediately I felt like I was on crack. I mean, I've never been on crack (promise, Mom!) but my heart and mind were running a million miles an hour, which is a really dangerous thing for an obsessive-compulsive, perfectionist bride the week of her wedding. I went from drifting in and out of sleep for three days, to manically pinning things on Pinterest at 3:30 in the morning the Tuesday before my wedding. I was restless, squirmy and sweaty. The medicine didn't help break my fever and the manic state I was in was only making it worse. I tired everything to calm down too. Camomile tea, yoga breathing, heck, I even watched three hours of Bob Ross on YouTube to try to help me fall asleep. However, that just led me to more Pinterest pinning of "DIY landscape paintings" and Google searches of "how did Bob Ross have such an amazing afro if he was just a white man from Florida?"
On my second day of medicine-mania, I finally researched what the doctor prescribed me and why it could be making me feel worse, instead of better. Turns out, I was prescribed 20mg of Prednisone, a really intense steroid, and as far as I could tell through my research, the dosage was way too high for someone like myself. I called Urgent Care and asked them for other options or if it was safe to completely stop taking the Prednisone cold-turkey.
To make a long story short, Urgent Care's usual on-call doctor called-in the morning of my visit and the office scrambled to find a fill-in. The doc I saw was that very fill-in, and had apparently prescribed medicines to a number of patients that had adverse reactions to their prescriptions - one of those patients being me.
I stopped taking the steroid, per their direction, and tried to let it clear out of my system. Feeling better and a little less manic, Eric and I went to run some last-minute wedding errands on Tuesday night. As we're sitting in holiday rush-hour traffic, my stomach starts to grumble. "That's odd", I thought. I hadn't eaten hardly anything in the last few days (what I thought was the best wedding diet ever!) and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why I would start feeling queasy.
Then it hit me.
I had to go to the bathroom. And I had to go NOW. Unsure of what to do, yet definitely very sure that I didn't want to ruin the very nice leather seats of my Lexus, I screamed at Eric in the driver's seat to "FIND A BATHROOM"; a look on his face of pure, unadulterated horror. We were in the middle of a very posh residential neighborhood, River Oaks, in a traffic gridlock and not a public venue or retail store in sight. The closest place I could think of was a Bed Bath & Beyond store a half a mile down the road and I told him to get me there at all means necessary.
As we zipped in and out of traffic, I was starting to unzip my jeans in anticipation of the worst bought of sickness I have ever experienced. Eric screeches to a halt at the entrance of the giant retail store and I race in faster that I have ever run in my entire life. I'm sure someone thought I was just a deranged River Oaks wife on a mission to get the best deal on a pre-Black Friday InstantPot, but alas, I high-tailed it straight to the bathroom.
I worked my way through Thanksgiving shoppers to find the public restrooms and flung open the door to the women's facilities. And to my horror, I found that each of the three stalls were out of toilet paper. What does a psycho, manic, bride-to-be with steroids pumping through her veins do in a situation like this? She tries to break open the paper towel dispenser by banging on it with her fist (a la Fonzie and a jukebox) and a bobby pin (a la Kim Possible). It wasn't pretty but I'm certain that the towel dispenser lock was already on the fritz (...I hope.. Or I'm really impressed with myself).
The only thing keeping me from feeling so terrible about this destruction of property is the fact that we had registered for about $3,000 worth of merchandise in their store, with a large majority already purchased.
I won't go into more details, but just know that Eric kept texting me from the comfort of my car in the parking lot, checking on me. I got messages from, "you go girl!" to "are you ok?' and my favorite "I still want to marry you... I think".
As it happens, Prednisone takes a full seven days to leave your body, and the adverse reactions linger just as long. The restlessness and insomnia were ever-present, and they brought with them new friends - nausea, sickness and bloating. Two of these making their debut first (see: above).
Thanks to the bloating, I gained seven pounds of water weight in the five days before my wedding. Every outfit and dress I had planned to wear didn't fit and my face was puffy and swollen. I was terrified that I was going to look like the Michelin Man in my very form-fitting wedding dress.
And I tried everything to beat the bloat. I ran two miles to try to sweat out the excess water (and at an incredible pace too - faster than my B,B&B sprint! This was the only nice part of my steroid-adventure.), I drank only water and I even had my sweet mother beg the grocery store pharmacist for every possible medicine or concoction to make me lose water weight. I felt like Regina George, saying "I really wanna lose three pounds!", but actually meaning it.
Did I lose the three pounds (or seven) before my wedding day? No. I did not. And I was a puffy, bloated mess.
But it was still the best day of my life and the man at the end of the aisle still thought of me as a beautiful bride, regardless of the horror he witness the previous Tuesday.
We had been through a lot during our engagement: A hurricane hit his hometown on his 30th birthday, and affected all of his family and friends. My father was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer. My parents were up at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota the week before, and he started treatment the week of our wedding. I had battled some gastrointestinal and stress-related illnesses earlier this year (re: other embarrassing Urgent Care experience) which hindered my ability to exercise and eat properly for several weeks.
But, if we can make it through all of the trials and curve balls that life has thrown us the last few months, I am sure we can make it through anything we may face in the future. Marriage is about more than just having a really nice wedding day, or looking good in a white dress. Its about finding that partner in life that you can't imagine living without, and that makes each day better than before. I've found that in Eric and would marry him a hundred more times - bloated, and even in sweatpants - if it meant being with him for the rest of my life.
But also, I'm really sorry, Bed, Bath & Beyond....