There’s ‘o so much I want to tell you including: more on the craziness James and I experienced before our wedding, OUR WEDDING (AHHH! I’m finally in the “married club” as my best friend Nik says!), our honeymoon, and married life… Ohhh, married life. I’ll tell you the truth and nothing but the truth about married life.
So let’s start at the beginning: Before the wedding.
Again, again, again, again… and again. Five times. That’s how many times James and I had problems with our health solely in the month of May. In fact, there were so many health fiascos, I started keeping a list in my head. I envision it looking something like this:
1. Laura versus Optic Neuritis
2. Laura versus Multiple Sclerosis
Winner: To be determined
3. Laura versus Upper Respiratory Infection
4. James versus Sprain
5. Laura versus Blistering Red Rash
Winner: Laura… kinda.
Ohhh, that’s right — Blistering. Red. Rash. I know those adjectives gained most of the attention, but notice before that, James too trying to compete for health attention. See, he couldn’t get left off of this! That’s because when James and I first met and became friends, we noticed this trend of the most ever-so-unlucky events happening to us… but only when we were together. I think it’s only natural and right that he participate in different health adventures too.
So, you read about my sudden stint with optic neuritis… but there are many other details I haven’t had a chance to fill you in on. Once my optic neuritis vanished… once I got over a random upper respiratory infection, James decided he wanted to play his health cards on the table too… so he sprained his ankle playing basketball with his friends.
This may be a bit sadistic, but I find it interesting when males pretend they aren’t in pain because it is ever so clear to women who are looking at them. Yet, when you ask if they’re okay, all they say is, “Oh yeah! Of course! I’m fine!” in this sickening upbeat tone. Humph. Male-pride in full force. Do they really not think us women will notice?! That’s exactly what James tried to pull with me… Here he comes one Sunday afternoon, hobbling up to my parents’ house to help with last-minute wedding details. I was watching him from the window, unbeknownst to him… but the second I pulled open the door, he stands straighter and makes this excruciating attempt at walking normal. Got ‘cha, buddy. I got ‘cha.
After questioning him — and looking at his ankle which was larger than a tennis ball — I decided it was time to go to the doctor for an x-ray.
He said no. I said yes. He reaffirmed his no, laughing off the situation and promising to take it easy before our wedding. Again, I prodded to go to the doctor… and realizing my harping wasn’t helping, I enlisted the one woman I knew would be the best ally for the situation: His mother. Picture taken of his ankle? Check. Picture texted to his mother? Check. Instant phone call to her son? Check. Ah, James. One day you’ll realize the overwhelming amount of power the women in your life can wield together, my love. Just remember though, we wield this power for you, not against you. There’s a difference.
This story ends with James going to the Othro On-Call doctor, him diagnosing his ankle as sprained and offering ways to help it heal. PS-For those that have not heard of Ortho On-Call, great place. They deal with bone-related injuries and have their own x-ray machines. The most amazing fact about them? They are open every day and you can make a walk-in appointment. Oh, and because they saw us immediately, it was literally an in-and-out appointment. Bad news? James was left footing a $200 bill when we returned from our wedding. Our new theory: Only go to Ortho-On Call if you have an emergency. (*Clearing throat* And yes my love, you possibly breaking your foot days before our wedding and honeymoon is an emergency. The end. I don’t want to hear how a bone sticking out of your leg is an emergency. That is life and death, and we will handle that accordingly — and in a different way — if that ever happens. Now, let’s move on…)
As every horribly unlucky couple does, we battled that health mess… only to be brought another one: My red rash… eight days before our wedding.
Day One: It started when I was eating dinner Saturday. James made his delicious cheeseburgers for me (which PS-You know they must be good because I try not to eat beef)… along with grilled zucchini and corn on the cob. After I had finished eating, my bottom lip felt like it was burning — not a hot-fire burn like the Serrano pepper instance… but a consistent warm burn. For whatever reason, I thought it may mean my lips were dry so I put chapstick on and continued about my day. Gradually though, that little burning area grew… and with that feeling came a deep, bright red rash on my chin.
Soon, the rash spread… swallowing a portion of my skin beside my nose… then the middle of my forehead. And, as every rash does, I found it wasn’t willing to give up its previous homes just because it was changing locations. Those areas continued to develop a deeper, more colorful bruise-like red.
Here’s the deal — I’ve had rashes, hives, chicken pox, acne, you name it… I’ve gotten it before so while I was concerned about this red rash, I wasn’t worried… at least not until it started to feel like acid was literally eating portions those of my flesh off. Thinking I got something directly on my face, I washed it with soap and water… but the burning-acid feeling became stronger. I smoothed aloe vera gel on my skin… to no avail. By this time, the day was almost over so I took Benadryl and tried to sleep… hoping the rash would disappear as quickly as it came. …If one were so lucky.
Day Two: Sunday. What I thought would be a non-existent rash spread further across my face…accompanied still with that acid-eating feeling. By this time, doctors were needed. Of course, this had to happen over the Memorial Day weekend so everyone was not only off that day… but they were on vacation because of the holiday. Patient First was my only option. Fortunately, they saw me quickly… however, the results were anything but as fast. Basically, they gave me medication “that is commonly given when people develop rashes,” and they did a culture test, saying the results wouldn’t be back in ten days. Ten days?! I had seven before my wedding… eight before I’m out of the country. Another bubble popper: The doctor suggested to not do anything to irritate the rash because it could spread more. And by not irritating it, she meant not to change soap, use facial lotion… or wear make-up. At first, I was fine about the make-up because I don’t wear it normally… then I realized what job I have and how it is superficial so make-up is well, the one thing I kinda sorta haveta wear… that and clothes at least… but I thought that went without saying…
Back story: Since I had optic neuritis, I had this feeling that people were judging me — saying I used too many work sick days before our honeymoon. I can hear them say I “caused this on myself” because I’m “stressed.” Both were and still are incredibly frustrating. I didn’t want to use any sick days… because that meant something was legitimately wrong with me… which was the last thing I wanted before our wedding. Trust me. After everything I went through earlier, I just wanted to be, feel, and look n-o-r-m-a-l. As far as the stressed comment, I. Was. Not. Stressed. I don’t know how more plainly I could tell people this. I had over a year and a half to plan a wedding. Most females get a year, at most. The joys of planning our event early? I purposely arranged our plans so that we would have nothing to do the last month before our big day. That meant I truly was sitting around, enjoying life, happy-in-love with the man I was about to marry. “Stressed to marry James?” people joked. Give. Me. A. Break. I adore, love that man. I am the luckiest person to have found him, be given his love, and his hand in marriage. Getting married to him was and is the happiest moment in my entire life. So stressed about what then? Answer: NOTHING. My true face-to-face response though, “Um, I am not stressed. I am stressed NOW with this” and here I would motion at whichever health ailment was affecting me. …Okay. I am stepping off my “high horse” now, as James calls it.
Day Three: Monday. At this point, my lips were beginning to peel.
Not peel like chapped lips peel, but peel as in thick, extremely dry layers of lip-skin were falling at such a fast pace that I had to pick them out of my mouth when talking. (I’m sadly not exaggerating. It was disgusting.) I didn’t know what to do… mainly when my rash had the last laugh: It started to blister. I told people the rash felt like hot acid eating my skin… like I was being sunburned, but unable to move out of the rays… so I felt almost liberated when I saw the blisters. Proof I wasn’t making this feeling up.
At first the blisters started on my chin. Tiny little clusters of them. Then they moved to my nose… followed by my forehead. The one shred of good news: It was Monday. That meant a professional doctor could see me.
Soon, I found myself sitting in the dermatologist’s office… and about two hours later, here comes the dermatologist… accompanied with her troops. First marched (truly marched) a woman with an open lap top, posed in front of her like she was carrying a tray of food while waiting tables. Next came another woman, also marching in. I later determined she was the lap-top-woman’s assistant because she would watch the typing, then rapidly point at the screen, whispering to lap-top-woman. (And PS-Why a lap-top-woman needs an assistant is still beyond me…) Third to enter the room — the dermatologist. She too, marched in with a pointed look, placing her oriental, pretty face inches from mine. “Rashonforeheadthreeinchesnosaythreepointfourincheswidetwoinchestall. (Typing, typing, typing by the lap-top-woman.) Rashonchin–owww,nastyrash–onepointeightincheswidesayoneinchtall. (Computer keys still clicking, clicking, clicking…) Ohandrashonnose,yes,rashonnosesaydeepdarkred–Doesithurt?–rashonnoseaboutthreeincheslongandsayhalfinchwide.Onforehead,chin,nose–Anymore?–rashforehead,chin,noseallblistering,tinyblisterbrightredirritatedspreading.” And here she grabbed my arm, lifted it and shuffled my sleeve to my shoulder. “Norashonarm–Rashonarm?Ohmole.BIGmole.Withhair.Twohairs.” My other arm inspected. “Norashonleftarmeither,butmole.Secondmole.Alsohairstwohair.” (PS-For all those wondering, yes I do have two disgusting moles on my arm with hairs coming out of them. And for all those curious, I’m told hair coming from moles are healthy. *Clearing throat*) Next, came my back — She raised my shirt all the way to my hairline. I could feel her fingertips delicately prodding. “Rashonback?Norashonback.Wellareahere.Thisonbackneck (typing, typing, typing) Bigbite.Bigbite,saythree-fourths-inchcircle.” Then came the part I didn’t expect (not that I truly expected any of this) — After she pulled my shirt down to cover my back, looked me in the eyes, she then suddenly pulled the neckline of my shirt to her and peaked under my shirt! “Norashonchest” was the conclusion.
This entire process — from the march into the office to the lightning-like examination — was over in a mere three minutes. Three minutes and then the laptop woman screamed out (honestly, I cannot make this stuff up), “HERPES!” “WHAT?! WHAT. ARE. YOU. TALKING. ABOUT?!” This time it was me screaming. “Herpes?! Are you serious? Wait a minute. Just wait a minute. What is going on here?!” The thin, oriental dermatologist squinted her eyes at me like it was the first time her lab specimen talked back. “What?” she asked with her oriental accent. “What?!” I stammered. “WHAT?!” What on earth is going on?! I don’t have herpes! Jesus!” “Ohhh. Okay,” and she chided her lap-top-folks. “She no herpes.” Looking back at me. “You — You just stressed,” said with a smile as if happy to make a different prognosis. There’s that word again — Stressed. I lost it. “What on earth are you talking about?! Stressed?! That’s making my this rash and making my face blister up?! I. am. NOT. stressed!” “No?” She asked me. “No,” I said sternly… then added, “I mean, I don’t know! AllI knowisIhavethisRASHthatisSPREADINGacrossmyFACE,blisteringandfeelinglikeacidand…and…IGETMARRIEDINSIXDAYS! I may be stressed now!” “Ohhh” was her answer. Truthfully, I may have said “Ohhh” back at her. I cannot remember. All I remember is from there, the dermatologist determined my rash was due to allergies… from a gardenia… which I smelt (okay, stuck my face in is more accurate) on Saturday, hours before the acid-rash began. “Here. Take this.” Our conversation had slowed now. I could actually understand what she was saying, instead of thinking she was speaking Japanese to the typing-and-looking-women. With that she handed over a steroid cream which “heals rash quickly.” “How quickly,” I prompted? “Quickly. Say… two to three days. In time for wedding.” A sigh of relief (from me, obviously… not her army who was working, no doubt, to un-enlisted me under “Herpes” on the diagnosis.) Next I was given a strong moisturizer “because steroid cream dry area too much.” Fine. Whatever. Two creams. As long as we hit that two to three days, I’ll use pee for all I care. (Okay, I probably wouldn’t… but just saying.)
The days after this passed relatively better. By Friday, my rash’s blisters had popped and my skin was in the process of peeling. It truly was similar to a nightmare-like sunburn. I wish I could say the day of my wedding the rash was gone, but the truth is it wasn’t. It was better, yes; but it wasn’t healed. I told you I’d always tell the truth, well, when I was putting on my make-up before walking down the aisle, I cried. I cried because I wanted to look beautiful, feel beautiful… and that day at that time, I felt anything but. It’s funny. People kept telling James and me to pray for sunshine. We only prayed for our health. That by the time we walked down the aisle, we would look like and feel like our regular selves. I will say (again), I have the most incredible family and friends. They were like angels, encouraging me, filling me with all the “You’re the most beautiful bride” comments. Did it help? …Well, maybe not in the sense that I suddenly felt pretty, normal like before… but it did help in the sense that they made me remember what the day was about — Not how my face looks. That day was about James and me. Us, standing next to each other, wedding bands in our hands by our pastor. Us, sharing holy and private vows, dedicating our love and lives to one another. Always.
In the end, my rash was reduced under make-up, and I walked proudly with my hand tucked on my daddy’s arm… and together, we strolled toward my best friend, the man I cannot live without, to my husband. Did the rash stick around after? Sure. I carried it all the way to our honeymoon… and it still comes out slightly there to this day. But I learned an important lesson: Feeling beautiful isn’t an “outward” feeling, an outward appearance. Feeling beautiful comes from one’s smile, their eyes, their aura. Feeling beautiful comes from moments, memories, time spent making each day last, making each day more precious than before.