The Wedding Series – Getting the Sniffles on Your Wedding Day

Prevention Of and Planning For Getting Sick On Your Wedding Day

Every few years I seem to catch one of these viral gremlins that lays me low. It was bad enough getting sick in my corporate life, but if I had to miss work at least I had a team to back me up and I could usually perform some aspects of my job effectively from home while avoiding the passing on of my germs to my coworkers. But in my current occupation getting sick means I could miss a speaking engagement or running a workshop for a client or a community presentation. And that’s exactly what happened; last Saturday I had to cancel a Super Saturday event sponsored by my local library in which my daughter, Lyn, and I were presenting four workshops on job search techniques and skills. My symptoms started on Tuesday with an ominous tickle in my throat and by Thursday they were full blown — fever, chills, sore throat, aches, cough, congestion and laryngitis; even antibiotics and rest couldn’t make me well enough by Saturday to stand in front of an audience.

This experience made me wonder what I would do if I became ill for Lyn’s wedding, which is coming up later this year. Of course, being human and vulnerable to the infinite number of microbes floating around, it’s possible to become ill at any time, including on those most important and precious of occasions. While we don’t often think of such things happening when planning a wedding, it’s certainly possible that the bride or groom or other member of the wedding party could come down with a cold, or worse, that coincides with the Big Day.

Usually I’m pretty careful to avoid illness, including refraining from shaking hands under certain circumstances. But no matter how careful we are sometimes we just can’t avoid getting sick or having an accident. But, let’s look at what can be done to stay well for that all important Wedding Day.

An Ounce – or More – Of Prevention

Generally, there are two approaches to prevention: (1) avoid contact with viruses and bacteria that can make you ill and (2) help your immune system stay strong so that you can resist those viruses and bacteria if you do make contact.

Here are some steps to take to keep the gremlins away:

  • Reduce Stress Chronic stress can lower resistance to colds, flu, cold sores, upset stomachs, headaches and other maladies. To reduce stress meditate, exercise, get a massage (here are two DIY methods: gadget and fingers), take a relaxing shower or bath and laugh a lot.
  • Wash Your Hands Properly and Often – Experts say that germs are most frequently transmitted through our hands, and recommend soaping up and washing them for at least 20 seconds or as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday.” This is especially important after using the toilet, shaking hands, touching items that other people have handled in the office and other public places. But be sure you really wash your hands properly; merely running your hands under the faucet and giving them a quick shake won’t do. Additional “don’ts” include not touching the faucet, paper towel dispenser or door knob with your bare hands after washing them; use a clean paper towel or tissue. NOTE: These guidelines are not for women only!
  • Consider Using Hand SanitizersAlcohol-based hand sanitizers have reduced the spread of infections greatly since they were introduced 20 years ago, but they remain controversial. The FDA is even questioning their use in hospitals. Decide for yourself if you want to use them.
  • Use Hand Wipes – Because antibacterial soaps and household cleaners apparently do not kill germs more effectively than plain soap and cleaners, the same is probably true of hand wipes. But if you aren’t always going to be near a restroom to wash your hands each time you should, carrying plain hand wipes with you is a good backup.
  • Use a Surgical Mask? – During the flu pandemic scare of 2009 many people took to wearing surgical masks to protect themselves from becoming ill. But for masks to be effective, the person who already is sick should be wearing it to keep from spreading his or her germs. Thus, it really doesn’t pay to wear one if you’re well and trying to stay that way. However, wearing a surgical mask is likely to prompt others to give you a wide berth, so in that respect it might help you avoid germs!
  • Stay Home If You Can – If you can stay home and avoid people the week before your wedding that would be ideal. But if you are living with someone who is going to work and other gatherings he or she will simply bring home the germs anyway. But if both the bride and groom can limit activities and contacts as much as possible that can help. And you can use the time to wrap up last minute details from the comfort of home.
  • Limit Activities – The week before the wedding skip having dinner out, attending parties or receptions, going on a ski weekend or meeting with vendors or anyone else. You want to avoid food poisoning, hangovers, accidents or, again, picking up a cold.
  • Stay Out Of The Sun – It’s easy to become overexposed to the sun, but you don’t want to become burned, blistered, dehydrated, overly freckled or even wind up with tan lines that might not look great with the style of your wedding dress. Not only can too much sun play havoc with your looks and cause you severe pain in the present, it can affect your long-term health as well; that goes for tanning beds, too.
  • Avoid Certain Foods and Beverages – A few days before the wedding, avoid food or drink that promotes intestinal distress or bloating. You want to slip into that dress or tux with ease and not have to deal with any such discomfort.
  • Get A Flu Shot – The flu season generally starts around October and ends around May. Each year new strains of influenza infiltrate our environment so it’s wise to get an annual flu shot to minimize your chances of picking up one of the many viruses circulating. Flu shots do not protect against every strain so you must still take precautions.
  • Manage Your Chronic Conditions: If you have Diabetes, IBD, high blood pressure, asthma or are prone to migraines, etc. — in other words any of the many chronic diseases or allergies that afflict millions of people — be sure to schedule your regular checkup shortly before the wedding and take your prescribed medication in an effort to avoid a flare-up.
  • Be Careful At Home And In Your Car: More accidents occur at home than anywhere else and many car accidents occur close to home.
  • Get Enough Sleep – Avoid leaving too many details to the last minute, and have enough help lined up to take the pressure off of you and your intended should last-minute emergencies crop up. Plan your schedule so that you can get plenty of rest the week or two leading up to your wedding so that you will be able to enjoy the biggest shindig of your life!

While this list might seem overwhelming (!), it’s simply another among the many lists with which a bride and groom must deal when planning their wedding, and it’s one that in all the hub-bub can be overlooked. Because an illness or accident on or close to the day of your wedding can throw you for a loop, taking preventative measures can help avoid panic. But before starting any preventative regimen that subjects your body to something new check with your doctor, pharmacist or registered dietician. You want to make sure that your exercise routing is right for you or that the herbal supplements you are considering are appropriate for you and don’t interact negatively with other meds you might be taking.

A Pound of Cure

Despite your best efforts what will you do if you do come down with a cold or flu, or suffer an injury? Well, your course of action will be determined by the extent of your infirmity. Generally, it should be pretty severe to postpone the wedding; after all you probably have many thousands of dollars invested in this day so far, not to mention the investment of the wedding party and guests in time, money, travel, job and childcare arrangements, etc.

Assuming you have not landed in the hospital or are dangerously contagious, your wedding team should be able to support you and get you through the day. Your other half, family, attendants, vendors and perhaps a wedding planner will all pitch in to do whatever is necessary to move things along and keep you as comfortable as possible. Your attendants can keep you supplied with hot tea or other soothing soft drinks, as well as items from your Emergency Kit, including plenty of tissues, cold medicine and hand sanitizer — for your comfort and the protection of your guests! If you’re not up to circulating, let your new spouse take care of that and practice the “in sickness and in health” promise right out of the gate!

Here are some further tips:

  • Colds and Flu – Generally, a cold or flu can be dealt with by taking cold medicine and, if necessary, obtaining a prescription from the doctor for an antibiotic (ensure that you are prescribed something that you’ve taken before successfully; you want to avoid an allergic reaction or unpleasant side effects with an unfamiliar drug — that happened to me with Azithromycin). Avoid drinking alcohol with a cold or flu, whether or not you are taking OTC or prescription meds.
  • Cold Sores – If you are prone to getting cold sores (AKA fever blisters), the second you feel your lip tingling, treat your lips with a remedy such as Abreva; some even say tea bags are a helpful fast cure! You can try to diminish the appearance of a cold sore with a concealer and makeup. There are also other products, such as cold sore bandages, lysine lip balm and lysine ointments by which many people swear. And, as for the “you may kiss the bride” portion of the ceremony, since you’ll have a lifetime ahead for that a hug instead would prudent so you don’t risk passing on the virus to your new spouse
  • Laryngitis – Keep lozenges handy and try to save your voice for saying, “I do,” even if it’s barely above a whisper. If you lose your voice prior to the wedding day have a pretty sign made up that says, “I do,” and hold it up at the proper moment accompanied by your smile.
  • Upset Stomach, Headache, Etc. – Remedies for routine upset stomach, nausea, headache and so on are readily available. Keep them handy throughout the day and take recommended dosages as needed.

The ceremony and festivities often will distract you from your aches and pains, at least temporarily. As long as you aren’t running a fever and are relatively mobile you have a fighting chance of not only surviving being under the weather but actually enjoying yourself. And, you’ll feel good about your family and friends enjoying themselves on your important day.

Other, more serious illnesses or accidents could result in having to postpone the wedding, and some wedding insurance policies cover sickness or injury to the bride and groom. In a later entry, I’ll address the steps to be taken in handling a wedding postponement or cancellation. Not happy thoughts, but all the same one of life’s realities.

Meanwhile, we’ll be taking a break from The Wedding Series during March to focus on National Women’s History Month, sponsored by the National Women’s History Project. This year’s theme is “Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.” Please come along as we journey back into history as well as examine the status of women in the government workplace today.

Until next time,

Jeanne

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