Real Spoonie Weddings: Interview With the Reluctant Spoonie’s Katherine! Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)

All wedding images, except for this cover image, are Katherine’s.

Katherine gave me a wonderful love story in her wedding interview – virtual interview Q + A. It was amazing to hear what her husband and she went through to be together. That’s the stuff books are made of ( and I do believe Katherine does have a book – please check out her blog, it’s lovely and very informative).

Katherine was one of my first followers on this blog when it was a wee zygote, and my blog is still in it’s embryo stages. On my last Spoonie Bride post I talked about collaboration. Collaboration can be as simple as supporting someone’s work. So, thanks Katherine!

Now, on to the interview.

Q1. Tell me everything there is to know about your condition & how it specifically relates to you.
I have Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) which is a condition that causes dizzy spells, chronic fatigue and a fast heart rate. These symptoms mainly occur when you are standing up (hence the postural part) and those with POTS fall onto a spectrum with regards to the severity of their condition. I have a very severe form of POTS that left me bedridden for several years. 


Q2. What is your wedding story?
My husband and I met in our first year and he proposed after just 6 months (he was 18, I was 19). My husband was on a three-year course and I was on a four-year course. We had always planned to get married the year after I graduated from university. However, I developed POTS in my final year and became bedridden almost instantly, so we decided to postpone our wedding until I was well again. When I found out that I had a long-term chronic illness, we had to make a decision on when and how we would like to get married. We decided that we didn’t want to wait any longer as we had been engaged for almost 5 years at that point. We scaled down our wedding plans and I started physiotherapy so that I would be able to walk down the aisle. I planned our wedding in the space of 6 months and made sure that we still had all the little details that we’d originally planned such as themed ring boxes and a chocolate fudge wedding cake. 


Q.3 What was your venue, how many did you look at, and what factors did you consider in looking at a venue?

As we only had a short space of time to plan our wedding, we didn’t have a huge amount of venue options for our wedding reception. We ended up booking the venue next-door to the registry office who catered for wedding parties and had a dedicated wedding planner to organise these events. Everything was going smoothly until I disclosed my illness and requirements to the wedding planner 2 months before my big day. Communications were sporadic after that and they didn’t even show up on the actual day! My Maid of Honour even had to take over and organise the cake.

Q.4 Did you require any special catering?
Because of my POTS, I am not able to drink alcohol so I arranged for a non-alcoholic alternative for myself. Unfortunately, I was still given a glass of champagne when I arrived. I can’t manage large meals, so we chose to have an afternoon tea style wedding reception instead of the standard 3-course meal so that I could enjoy the food without fear of overloading my stomach. 
Q.5 Did you have any symptoms on your wedding day? If so, how did you manage?
I planned the day to minimise symptoms. I arranged to have the ceremony at 2 pm, a time when I am most alert and my morning meds have kicked in. I also sat down for my vows which I thought would ruin the photos, but they turned out great! 
Q. 6 How big was your guest list and wedding party?
We only had 20 people attend our wedding which included close friends and family. I had 3 bridesmaids and 1 brides-man. My husband had 3 groomsmen. 

Q. 7 What was your dress like, where did you find it, and was it a certain way to accommodate you?
I wore a vintage 50’s style tea-dress which I had altered to fit me. I had a coloured petticoat added so that it would look nice when I was sitting down to give a pop of colour. 
Q. 8 What are 3 things you would like a wedding vendor to know?
1. Not everyone is able to have a big wedding. Small weddings deserve your full attention as well. 2. Accessibility and accommodations are not optional and are requirements for everyone to enjoy the day.
3.  Be professional. Educate yourself on your client’s disability or illness to better understand their needs. 

Want more Real Spoonie Weddings?

Read about Jess’ and Jenny’s! If you’d like to be featured, email me at spoonielifestyle@gmail.com.

Real Spoonie Weddings: Interview With Life’s a Polyp’s Jenny

As some of you may know, I am conducting interviews on brides who have chronic illnesses. This is because when I was planning my wedding, I felt extremely alone. Everywhere I looked, there was no information for someone like me. I knew there must be other girls in my shoes who felt the same way.

My goal is to be as inclusive as possible – it doesn’t matter what makes you differently abled, chronically ill, or disabled, however you may identify – this blog post series aims to shine a light on an underserved group by the wedding industry.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jenny from Life’s a Polyp. Jenny has two rare diseases stemming from childhood – Familial Adenomatous Polyposis and Short Bowel Syndrome. They give her chronic pain and diarrhea, which can be life-threatening.

Now, let’s go on to the interview!

This interview was lightly edited for clarity and formatting.

Q1. Tell me everything there is to know about your condition & how it specifically relates to you.

Familial Adenomatous Polyposis is a rare hereditary genetic mutation that predisposes an individual to colon cancer due to hundreds to thousands of precancerous polyps developing in the colon at an early age. Those with FAP develop significantly more polyps and at an earlier age than those without FAP. If the FAP polyps are not treated, the individual will inevitably develop colon cancer. Due to the dominant hereditary nature of FAP, the offspring of an affected individual has a 50% chance of inheriting FAP. 

There are associated manifestations of FAP as well. These include:

  • Congenital hypertrophy of retinal pigment epithelium (CHRPE)
  • Osteomas, supernumerary teeth, odontomas
  • Desmoids, epidermoid cysts
  • Duodenal and other small bowel adenomas
  • Gastric fundic gland polyps
  • Increased Risk for Gastric Cancers and cancers of the Thyroid, Pancreas, Liver, Central Nervous System, and Bile Ducts

Short Bowel Syndrome is a rare disease that is caused by the removal of or dysfunction of part or all of the small intestine and/or large intestine. Severe diarrhea is common resulting in malabsorption of nutrients and water. This can cause life threatening malnutrition and dehydration.

At age 9, I underwent a total colectomy under the recommendations of specialists due to precancerous FAP polyps beginning to turn cancerous in order to prevent full development of colon cancer. The plan was to have a temporary ileostomy that would later be “taken down” after recovery ending with a jpouch. However, I suffered several surgery complications resulting in the removal of the majority of my small intestine and a permanent ileostomy. During the span of this year, I underwent 5 surgeries and experienced several near-death experiences. 

At age 16, I came under the care of a different surgeon and with consultation of my GI specialist, I underwent a 6th surgery to take down the ileostomy and was given a straight pull-thru. The following year, my health unexpectedly began to rapidly decline and I again was not expected to live. After repeated, extensive testing I underwent my final surgery to remove excess scar tissue that was causing a stricture around my intestine. Over the next 5 years, I continued to struggle with my health with frequent hospitalizations and ongoing medical treatments to re-establish my health. I have chronic abdominal pain and nausea due to adhesions, the levels of both issues vary from moment to moment but are worsened by ingestion of food or drink.

Due to the removal of my colon and part of my small intestine, I was diagnosed with Short Bowel Syndrome. This has also been challenging throughout the years as I experience 20+ bowel movements a day that cause my to be able to have quick restroom access as needed. This limits my activities to a degree and is a constant concern. I have medicine to help slow my bowel but it can cause increased pain and even intestinal obstructions so I try to limit its use. I am in a constant state of dehydration in spite of drinking more than 64 ounces a day and require multiple medications in an effort to maintain appropriate electrolyte balance. Years of malnutrition caused degeneration in my neck resulting in permanent neck pain and limited range of mobility.

Q2. What is your wedding story?

I wanted a fun, short ceremony so we had a Blues Brothers themed wedding. The men dressed as the Blues Brothers, the ring bearer had a briefcase handcuffed to him and wore Converse shoes (like in Blues Brothers 2). Everyone danced down the aisle to Blues Brothers music instead of walking down the aisle. My then husband and I were handcuffed to each other when we were pronounced married.

Q.3 What was your venue, how many did you look at, and what factors did you consider in looking at a venue?

I researched online probably at least 50 venues comparing prices and the look of the venue. I only went in person to see two venues – one for ceremony and one for reception. The ceremony was held at the Fort Reno Chapel that was a wooden chapel built by German POWs during WWII that we discovered while participating in an annual ghost tour at the Fort. It was a really beautiful building. It was very cheap as an added plus but that was where my then husband wanted. I chose the reception area a few miles away at an event center that didn’t require much of any decorating and had in house catering, cake and DJ so that I wouldn’t have to mess with additional vendors. I was able to pay for a package that I found within my budget so it was a very easy process. I wanted an easy process within my budget and a beautiful venue that wouldn’t require a lot of decorating to keep stress, money and effort to as little as possible.

Q.4 Did you require any special catering?

No. We didn’t have any diet restrictions. We chose finger foods and cake.

Q.5 Did you have any symptoms on your wedding day? If so, how did you manage?

I have chronic diarrhea and pain when I eat so I took prescription strength anti-diarrhea medication to the full dose and I avoided all food and drink until the reception.

Q. 6 How big was your guest list and wedding party?

We invited about 100 people and had 9 in our party. That included flower girls and ring bearer.

Q. 7 What was your dress like, where did you find it, and was it a certain way to accommodate you?

I didn’t require any accommodations. I had it made from my grandmother’s dress. My seamstress made it into a form fitting mermaid pattern without a train. She kept some of the original features of the dress while adding additional embellishments. I wore jewelry that belonged to the same grandmother and my great aunt to compliment the dress. My mother in law made a mantilla veil for me to wear.

Q. 8 What are 3 things you would like a wedding vendor to know?

One would be if there were diet restrictions that needed to be accommodated.

It would be good for them to know about any mobility issues that may need to be considered for those involved or invited.

Lastly, flexibility where possible such as on timing or ability to take a break from the events to allow for a rest period.

Interested in having your real spoonie wedding featured?

Email me below!

spoonielifestyle@gmail.com