Just married – bride with an ileostomy

Lisa Walkingshaw

Lisa Walkingshaw

I felt like a princess in my reasonably fitted wedding gown by Justin Alexander, something I never thought possible with an ileostomy.

On Friday 29th September this year I married my best friend and soulmate, the very person who has been by my side through all my “sickness and health”. Our family and friends from far and near (even as far as Australia) gathered at 3pm to watch us become one, all the love and emotion that surrounded us was overwhelming. The sun shone long enough for us to get some amazing pictures overlooking the Fermanagh lake lands and I felt like a princess in my reasonably fitted wedding gown by Justin Alexander, something I never thought possible with an ileostomy. Everything was perfect. Our first dance was even ‘Perfect’ by Ed Sheeran as the lyrics are beautifully fitting of our journey together.

Unfortunately at 11.30pm after a such a great day, I became unwell. My bridesmaids took me to the toilet where I projectile vomited and the pain in my stomach was terrible. I just kept saying “please not on my wedding night”. We missed the second half of the band and our last dance to close the evening. I was gutted. Convinced it was a blockage I left the party early with my new husband for what was going to be the most unromantic night you could imagine. My parents didn’t leave the bridal suite until 4am and my friends were calling in to see if I was ok, not how you would expect your first night as man and wife to be haha. Wayne looked after me right through the night, we didn’t get a wink of sleep and the only ease I got was in a hot bath. Into the next morning my symptoms had not eased. Worried that it was going on too long, and the risk of dehydration, my mum phoned an ambulance. When I seen that ambulance drive up to the cabin to get me, all I could do was sob. I could not believe that my weekend had now been ruined after the years of planning. My family watched as I got taken away in the ambulance my brothers cried with disappointment for me, I felt like it was a bad dream.

Arriving at Enniskillen hospital with our matching Mr and Mrs t-shirts, the nurses instantly took pity on us. The rest of our guests who were all staying for the weekend was urged to continue the celebrations as planned. After blood tests and an abdominal x-ray, they diagnosed food poisoning. However I really do believe it was a bug as we all ate the same that day, and cannot pinpoint what the culprit was. Just happy to be discharged, my dad too me back to Lusty Beg. My symptoms had somewhat eased after pain relief so after some rest I was looking forward to joining our guests on the second night as we had planned to have dinner and drinks. We were especially looking forward to this night as the wedding day was so busy, we didn’t get much time to chat to our guests. However I woke to the pain and sickness again meaning that I was unable to attend the second night either.

Out of the whole weekend we had planned from Thurs- Sunday, I managed to enjoy from 3pm- 11.30pm on the day of the wedding. I have cried a river of tears as I know I will never get that time back but on reflection, I realise it could have been worse. If it happened on the morning of the wedding, the wedding would have been cancelled. At least I got to enjoy all of the most important parts; the ceremony, photographs, the speeches and the dances. We went there to get married and the most important thing is that after 11 years together we left the island as Mr and Mrs Darragh.

We came back from Lusty beg on the Sunday. By now I was tolerating water and a light diet so not wanting to miss out on honeymoon aswell, we flew to London on Monday 2nd October for our flight to Jamaica the very next day. Unknowns to Wayne I was terrified and when I got on that 9 and half hours flight to Jamaica, I thought I was totally mad. “What if I take sick in Jamaica? Do Jamaicans even know what an ileostomy is? But like Iv’e always said ‘I cannot let this keep me back, life is for living’ so I talked myself out of worrying anymore and set off to enjoy some rest and relaxation with my new husband.

We had an amazing time, the weather was great and after a few days of a light diet, I enjoyed all the food Jamaica had to offer. I was in and out of the swimming pool as much as everyone else, climbed waterfalls, jumped off the side of a boat and snorkeled in the Caribbean sea. My ileostomy always is slightly inconvenient on holiday, I would be lieing if I said any different as I usually have to change by bag twice a day instead of every other day at home. This is because the water affects my filters causing ballooning. But I always get by. Ten days in paradise is just what we needed and we returned refreshed.

My ileostomy was not the reason this happened, food poisoning could happen to anyone, but unfortunately us ostomates have to be even more cautious because of dehydration. I was just unlucky. There is sometimes in life, we never know the answers why. All I wanted was to enjoy my wedding, a day all of us girls plan form a young age. But that is all it was, one day, one day out of the rest of our lives together. The only way forward is positivity and I am hopeful that we will have a long and happy marriage full of new memories and experiences. If all else it is a story we can perhaps laugh at some day and tell our grand children when we are grey and wrinkly. I am now looking forward to receiving our photos and DVD to remind us of what a great day we had.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Lisa Darragh

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