The Honeymoon is Over

Another rainy, gloomy day. Also, a bird has just flown into my window four times. The same bird. I’m sitting here watching it. Either it’s having a worse day than I am, or it really, really loves chest-bumping picture windows.  In an effort to distract myself from the impending carnage, I’m going to continue the series of the early years of us.


One week before my wedding I had gone to get my hair highlighted. I came home and pulled the sides back only to find there were a few spots – literally, circular spots – of blonde that I wasn’t crazy about. Also, I felt like total doo. My throat was sore. My head was killing me. My back felt like I was lying on a bed of nails. I just didn’t feel good at all.  I decided to go to the doctor.  Within ten seconds of being swabbed for strep, it was positive. Strep throat. One week before my wedding.

I went home and called the hair salon to make sure I could go back and get my highlights corrected. While I scheduled my revisit, I got another call.

“Is this Valerie?”
“Yes it is” I croaked.
“Valerie this is (name I have forgotten) from the Wyoming State Health Department. I’m calling to let you know the sample you submitted has tested positive for salmonella.”

Let me back up a little bit.  The restaurant where I worked as a server had come under fire as at least three dining patrons had come down with food poisoning.  It was determined contaminated cans of mushrooms (that arrived contaminated from the distributor) were the culprit. Each employee had to submit two consecutive samples testing negative for salmonella before being allowed to return to work.  The health department was calling to tell me I had tested positive. I don’t eat mushrooms. Never have. The only thing we later determined was when a coworker and I ordered the same sandwich, and I ordered mine without mushrooms, they cut hers first, and used the same knife to cut mine. I had salmonella from cross-contamination.  Back to the phone call.

“I’m sure you’re mistaken – I just went to the doctor and I have strep throat. I’m sure that somehow interfered with the test and gave it a false positive.”
“Valerie, I’m sorry, but the fact is you do, actually, have salmonella. Have you been experiencing symptoms?”

Yes, I had been – but I attributed it all to the stress of planning a wedding, and of course, the recent diagnosis of having strep throat.  I ended the phone call, hung up, and broke down. I was getting married in a week. I was sick as a dog. I couldn’t work. Even if I had felt fine I couldn’t work because I was “contaminated”. You cannot be serious. This cannot be happening.

I was on an antibiotic for the strep throat. It wasn’t helping the salmonella.  When I walked down the aisle on my wedding day, I put on a brave face – but I. Felt. Miserable.  I was praying I wouldn’t have an “accident” in my wedding gown. I was praying I wouldn’t throw up on anyone’s shoes. I was praying I could stand up long enough to get through the ceremony and reception.  I felt like I had been drug behind a semi truck. The vows said “in sickness and in health” and we had no idea that meant in sickness from that very second.  I don’t remember much of the ceremony. I remember it happened, though, and we were married. It was official.  Somehow in the adrenaline of the day, I was able to make it through the entire ceremony and reception without getting sick.

Brent had just started a new job and therefore had limited time off for a honeymoon.  We had decided to go to Rapid City, SD – since we could drive there and get a lot done in a short amount of time. We had a blast, and crammed as many activities as we could into three days. We went to caves, we went to the Cosmos, we went to a petting zoo, we went to Storyland, an awesome mini golf course – we did everything we could. Including taking in the sights of Mount Rushmore.

When we had parked the car at the presidential mountain, Brent asked me if I needed my…we’ll call it “tummy medicine.”  I had been having a good day and knew I was about over the whole salmonella thing, so I told him no.  He asked me again, “Are you sure?” I know my body….I was sure. It would be fine. “Take the pills.” he said. I assured him, as I began crossing the street without him, it would be fine. Fine.

We walked up through the state flags, and could see the faces carved in to the mountain side. After taking pictures of everything and nothing, we decided to take one of the trails around to get the full experience of Mount Rushmore. I didn’t want to take the longest possible trail, so we took the second longest. Off we went.

About halfway through our adventure, it hit. Stomach cramps. Big time. And those led to one thing. There was no escape, there was no restroom, there was nothing. I sat down on a bench, clutching my stomach, and began to cry. The pain was so intense, and there was nowhere to hide. People were walking by, giving strange looks, and who really could blame them? Here I was rocking back and forth on a bench in tears, and my husband was standing against the rail of the walkway, arms across his chest, as he was embarrassed and upset. He had tried to ask me. He had tried to warn me. Now I was causing a scene, and he was none too happy.

After several long, painful minutes of my display, Brent had enough. We had been married for about two days, and he marched over to me to put his husbandly authority to good use. He got within inches of my face, and was visibly upset.

“Val, if you (“mess”) your pants, I am NOT taking you back to the hotel to change. I TOLD you to take the pills.”

I looked at him in disbelief. I was in tears, in pain, in distress, and here my husband of 48 hours was verbally putting me in a corner. I was being disciplined. He was putting his foot down. And he meant business. I could tell. Anyone could tell. Within seconds of him scolding me, another person walked by, and we both smiled and said hello – as if I was not feeling like I was dying, and my husband had not just scolded me.

I knew I couldn’t sit and rock on that bench all day. I had to make a run for it – no pun intended. I stood up and sprinted. Then I sat down. I sat and rocked until I could sprint again. Brent was walking behind me. I sprinted. I sat. I sprinted. I sat. I sprinted. I sat. I made it to the end of the trail. There was a bathroom. THERE WAS A BATHROOM!  I sprinted inside.  Brent took a picture of the bathroom so we would always remember. Thank you for that, honey.

We made it back to the car. I took some pills. The rest of the trip, that bottle of pills never left my side.We enjoyed the rest of our honeymoon, but I had definitely overdone it. On the drive home, my strep was still really bothering me, and I could have slept for days. Days. I was so very sick. And Brent was so very sick of me being so very sick.

Brent and I have both grown up a lot since the early days. I’ve learned to listen to him, because by golly, he’s smart. He’s taken care of me in some of the sickest times of my existence. He’s put up with a lot of crap. (I just went there…)  I have grown to love and respect my husband more over the years than I ever thought possible. I’ll get to the serious stuff later.

Later when people would ask how long we’d been married, they would joke, “Oh that long? The honeymoon is over!” and I would say, “Praise Jesus. Praise Jesus.”

(Stay tuned for: The Serious Stuff)

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