Destination weddings have a reputation for being happy, yet stressful and dramatic events. Since I was not the stereotypical bride, additional amounts of stress (even happy events) when not compensated for correctly can send me straight into the emergency room. Initially, my running buddy had joked that our first date would be a candlelit dinner in a hospital room (due to ill health at the start of our relationship) but neither he nor I truly wanted to experience that situation. This had to be a low stress destination wedding.
There were several steps we took to reduce the stress of wedding planning and the wedding itself. The first step was my request of no parties or showers. Even though this confused and disappointed many, I declined all offers for engagement parties, bridal showers and bachelorette parties. While I appreciated those wanting to celebrate the occasion, I had to focus my limited energy on the major details of the wedding and prepare for our international move immediately afterwards.
One of the major details of the wedding I had to focus on was finding the right wedding dress. I purchased my dress at a David's Bridal location that is very loud, crowded and overwhelming, especially to an introvert. I loved my wedding dress. I hated that store. I very quickly grew weary of hearing "You're the bride?! Is this the dress??!!! Aren't you SO EXCITED?!" There were screaming children, obsessive M.O.B's, crazy relatives and frantic employees constantly repeating, "Is this the dress" to women trying on the most “interesting” (yes, mom censored me here) choices of gowns.
I discovered that the quickest way to make me, a female engineer with Adrenal Insufficiency, shut down is to put me in a hectic and crowded store with way too much estrogen. I brought my mom, and my aunt, and was assigned to an overworked employee who kept forgetting about us. I had even tried to prepare ahead of time by taking an extra 5 mg of HC before I walked into the store, but that was clearly not enough.
I fell in love with the 1st of only 5 dresses I tried on. I loved it because it was comfortable and beautiful. David's Bridal has a tradition that when the bride finds the dress, she rings a bell so that the entire store can cheer. No thank you. They were disappointed and felt the need to verify several times that I truly did not want to ring the bell when I found the dress. No. I did not want to ring the stupid bell. I wanted to leave the store.
|"Fine mom. I'll smile for the camera."|
My mom and I coined a new phrase for my Adrenal Insufficiency after our David’s Bridal experience. I just have to say "I'm fading" because as my body uses up what limited cortisol I supplement, I begin to fade.
At first, I become agitated, then overwhelmed and confused as my cheeks flush and turn red. If I don't get intervention, I then struggle speaking and I cannot understand the world around me. This is different than an Adrenal Crisis where I crash suddenly and must seek immediate emergency medical intervention. But it can be just as dangerous because with no additional intervention this “fading” can slip into a full blown Adrenal Crisis.
|"It takes too much energy to smile."|
I began to fade more the longer I remained inside David's Bridal, but I did not have the words to communicate that to my mom. All of the loud external stimulation without ample cortisol coverage was too much for my broken adrenal glands. My mom took a few pictures at the very end so that we would have some photos of me in the dress even though it was the wrong color and size, but the correct style.
|I am a shell of a person here. Note my red cheeks and the rash on my chest.|
Those who know me can see in my face that I was not feeling well. My chest was flush and my cheeks were red. I struggled to formulate sentences to tell my mom goodbye and could not articulate that I was fading and was barely able to drive home because I was so fatigued. Once I returned to my apartment, I immediately took additional HC and ate an entire can of black olives (including drinking the olive juice). Yet it still took almost three hours before I could move from my couch again. I was afraid I was going to pass out.
|"I'm done. I am so done."|
This scared me. If the "simple" act of purchasing a wedding dress rendered me couch bound due to my Adrenal Insufficiency, how was I going to survive my actual wedding day?
See my mom's response.