Internet Laryngectomee Support
November 2001 - The Wedding Dress

The Wedding Dress
by Vicki Metz

    To set the stage, I had a total thyroidectomy for cancer 26 years ago.  I had my laryngectomy five years ago.

    A couple years ago, our oldest daughter, Bonny, and her boyfriend Dave announced that they had just become engaged.  We were delighted. We love her boyfriend. My other daughters said he really knows how to suck up to me - gives me flowers for special occasions (birthday, motherís day, etc.), and gives me things I really want and need for Christmas gifts - like a battery operated stud finder so I could put up some shelves.  Heís in construction and has helped my husband and me with several projects around our house and property.

    Anyway, back to the wedding plans. I have a typing job at home, so donít really need to dress up much.  Iím usually in jeans and very casual clothes. I thought that I needed to make a good showing as mother-of-the-bride.  I used to sew most of my clothes years ago, even made my own wedding dress.  I did some sewing when my daughters were younger, but, with my present job, time is at a real premium.

    I looked around for a mother-of-the-bride dress and found them all to be completely the wrong color or style for me.  They were so matronly, which I never thought of myself as being.  I am very thin, love the color blue and, with my stoma and a drooping shoulder, have a few hurdles to get over.  I also didnít want to wear my crocheted bib at this lovely event. 

    I looked at the pattern books and finally found a pattern that I thought would suit me.  It had a high neck (to cover the stoma), and was rather form fitting (donít mind showing off my slenderness).  Mind you, during my normal day, I am used to wearing knit turtle necks or a crocheted bib- never thinking that I can no longer wear a high necked dress that has no give to it if I need to cough.

    But not having done any sewing of clothes for myself for a long time and definitely before my laryngectomy in 1996, I thought Iíd better throw this by the women of WW.  I explained what I had done so far- getting the high necked pattern, and wondering if anyone had any suggestions for me. 

    I got so many responses.  Several said to wear a scarf around my neck- to which I replied that I couldnít do that as I suck in the scarf and canít breathe, to which was replied that I should get a foam filter to wear which would prevent that.  One lady even sent me a couple of foam filters to try out.  Judy Ramboldt helped me the most, as she is a seamstress for a theater group.  She said to make the neck line just below the stoma so that it would be open if I needed to cough.  Then wear a scarf over it.

    Ok, now for making the dress.  I cut out the material, basted it together, just to see how this was going to work- especially with my shoulder (I have one collar bone removed).  Well, when I tried it on, I realized I was in real trouble.  I had my mother look at it, as she can also sew.  She also felt I was in trouble, and she doesnít know that much about altering.  Same thing when we asked an aunt of mine.  I was getting a bit worried, then I thought about contacting the local technical college.  I explained to them what I wanted to do, and was there any help to be had from a sewing teacher. 

    They put me in contact with a teacher who had me come to her house with what I had done so far.  She said it could be done, but at her price/session, it would get a bit pricey for me.  (I wanted to do the sewing, she would just help me with the altering.)  She suggested enrolling in a class where I would have a whole semester of classes and help from the teacher- much more economical to take a weekly three hour class for a semester than to go for an hourly rate.

    When I joined the class in September of 2000, the teacher looked at what I had done, what she had to work with, and stated I was going to be a real challenge to her.  I was a little worried and felt I may still have to go to the wedding in a flour sack.  She said, no, she would guarantee me a dress for the wedding.  We struggled and worked with it, and I finally had my finished project in December of 2000.  I then made a scarf to cover my stoma, and made a purse to carry at least three extra well charged batteries for my Servox.  I also found in my jewelry box a silver pin to help hold the scarf in place.

    I also looked into how I could talk loud enough at the reception where there would be loud music.  I looked into various amplifying devices, including the ChatterVox, but felt that they were just not suitable.  There would be too much feedback while wearing it at a table while eating, or the looks of it just wouldnít do for mother-of-the-bride (the headsets, etc.).  In doing this, I went to our local VA Hospital, where a speech therapist helped me try out various devices that they had on hand.  I finally decided to just go with my Servox.  I was given advice from WW on how to totally deplete my batteries, then charging them for about 10 hours.

    The wedding was this past June of 2001.  At the rehearsal dinner, where it was a smaller group, but was held in a room of a restaurant, several people got up in front of a microphone to say things about our daughter and future husband.  I really wanted to say something, but get nervous.  My husband, Gary, finally got up to say something, and then a couple of other people, when the microphone gave out.  I thought, I can never do this, but I really wanted to.  Well, several people were still getting up and just talking louder.  So I signaled to my daughter that I wanted to talk and to try to make sure that everyone was quiet.  This was accomplished, and I turned up my Servox all the way and said my little speech.  I was well heard, and got a good response from everyone- signifying that everyone heard me and liked what they heard.

    At the wedding, our daughter was positively beautiful, my husband was truly handsome in his tux, and my other two daughters, Jenny and Heather, were lovely in their bridesmaid and maid-of-honor dresses.  I also felt very lovely in my dress, scarf (with foam filter underneath), purse, and dyed shoes.  I got lots of compliments.

    The ceremony was truly lovely.  The reception was great. I did have trouble talking in the hall at the reception- especially later in the evening when the music was almost nonstop and rather loud.  I ended up talking to people, during this time, out in the hall.  I only ended up using one battery for both the rehearsal dinner and wedding day.  But it was just about done for, whereas usually, my batteries last me about a week.

    One more thing I accomplished.  When our daughter and her fiancť made arrangements with the hall, both sets of parents went along.  I asked if it was possible to prohibit smoking.  The manager said yes.  Well, at the reception, I did see one person smoking at their table.  I asked him to stop as I had requested no smoking.  He promptly put out the cigarette.  I found another person smoking at the bar, went to talk to the bartenders, who said they were unaware of the smoking ban, and looked like they were not going to agree with this.  I stated that I was the mother-of-the-bride, and we were paying big bucks for this event, and I fully expected that they comply with the no smoking.  They agreed, and took away all the ash trays, and informed anyone at the bar after that.  So we had a lovely affair with breathable air and went home not stinking of smoke.

    The wedding cake was a five tiered one with an outdoor theme.  They both are fans of the great outdoors.

    This all was a bit of a milestone for me.  My sister-in-law commented to me during these festivities that, about 15 years ago, I was terribly ill and almost died.  And everyone was even wondering if I would live to see our daughters grow up, get married, and have children.  Well, I made it!

    Vicki can be contacted at: metzv@sbcglobal.net 


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