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Gripping my brolly tightly, I picked up my pace as the rain lashed down. What I wouldn't give to be on a beach right now, I sighed.
When I got home, my fiancé Joe had a bubble bath waiting for me.
“Will you still run a bath for me when we're married?” I teased.
“Course I will,” he laughed.
Later, I settled in front of the fire with my laptop and started looking at churches and wedding venues.
“It's all so expensive,” I said.
“We'll never be able to afford a honeymoon.”
“Why don't we combine the two?” Joe suggested.
I was dubious – a wedding in paradise would cost a bomb. But I decided to look it up anyway.
“It's half the price,” I gasped.
I couldn't believe it. A romantic beach ceremony in Mauritius, 19 nights in a hotel, plus extras all for £5,000!
It was still expensive, but it was half the cost of a wedding in the UK.
“Let's do it” Joe whooped.
Grinning, we paid a £2,000 deposit for our dream day.
But that night, as I was getting undressed for bed, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and grimaced.
I'd always hated my 36B flat chest. Maybe the wedding was the perfect excuse to do something about it…
“I'm thinking of having breast implants,” I announced as we lay in bed.
“Don't be silly.” Joe laughed.
Then he saw I was serious.
“Why?” he asked.
“I know I'm 41,” I begun “But every bride wants to look her best on her wedding day.”
Drifting into a deep sleep, I pictured my new pert boobs filling out a bikini for the first time. My mind was made up.
The next day I went back online to make a different set of plans.
I was quickly disheartened. Breast surgery in the UK cost over £4,000. After splashing out for our tropical wedding, we just couldn't afford it.
“But I want to look a million dollars,” I groaned.
“Well, we don't have a million dollars,” Joe joked.
Then I had an idea.
If I could get a cut-price foreign wedding…maybe I could get my boobs done for a fraction of the price too.
Within minutes I'd found the perfect answer.
“There's a Polish surgeon who does boob jobs for just £2,300,” I told Joe.
Luckily I'd just come into a bit of inheritance money.
I had a consultation with the doctor's secretary over the phone and booked the operation the same day.
I'd pay the full amount in cash when I got to Poland.
Three months later I was at the airport saying goodbye to Joe.
“I wish I didn't have to stay behind for work,” he said.
“Don't worry,” I assured him. “I'm going to be fine.”
At the clinic, the friendly surgeon put me at ease. As he drew black guidelines on my boobs with marker pen, I made conversation.
“What other operations do you do?” I asked.
“The usual,” he said. “Facelifts, liposuction, tummy tucks…”
Looking down at my flabby belly, I briefly imagined what it would be like to have a flat stomach again.
“Tummy tucks?” I repeated.
“How much do they cost?”
“£3,500,” he said.
A snip compared to the £7,000 charged by UK companies.
“I want one,” I said.
The surgeon told me he normally did breast implants and tummy tucks on the same day.
But he had a game of golf that afternoon so didn't have time to do both.
We agreed I'd come back in a month's time, and I was taken to theatre for my boob job.
When I came round after surgery, I was the proud owner of 38DD breasts.
That morning I was taken to a nearby hotel to recover. My chest was sore, but I'd been told to expect that.
Three days later I flew back home.
After two weeks I excitedly peeled back the bandages for the first time.
I couldn't wait to see my new breasts.
Only, my face fell as I saw my reflection in the mirror.
“Oh no!” I gasped. “They're wonky.”
“Er, they're not quite what I expected,” Joe admitted. “But they still look great.”
When I e-mailed the surgery about it, they said it could take a year for my boobs to “settle.”
So, a month later I flew back to Poland for my tummy tuck.
Only, as I was been taken into theatre, surgeons realised I wasn't the patient they thought I was.
At that point, I flew into a panic.
“Stop!” I screeched. “I've changed my mind – I want to cancel the operation.”
“It's too late,” the surgeon said.
“You've already paid.”
Before I knew it, the anaesthetic was kicking in and I was drifting off…When I came round that night, something didn't feel right.
“It really hurts,” I wept.
Nurses gave me painkillers but they barely registered.
The next day I was sent back to my hotel. Six days later I was in so much pain I could barely walk, but I had to fly home.
Joe was waiting for me at the airport. I practically collapsed into his arms.
“You don't look at all well,” he frowned.
The next day I was in agony.
“Enough's enough,” Joe said. “I'm taking you to A&E.”
There, doctors did some tests.
“You have a serious infection,” they said. “We need to operate immediately.”
Before they could say anymore, I was taken into theatre.
When I woke up, I was attached to all sorts of tubes and wires. A doctor explained I'd contracted necrosis, a flesh-eating bug, in my stomach. They'd found a large mass of dead tissue.
“We don't know for sure what caused it,” they said. “But it could have been due to poor blood supply during surgery.”
I was fitted with a colostomy bag and went home in more pain than ever. Joe became my full-time nurse. I moved around the house doubled over like an old woman.
With the wedding just months away, I started to panic.
“I can't walk up the aisle like this!” I wept.
A few weeks later I was coming down the stairs when I heard an odd popping noise.
“Joe,” I screamed.
He came running and I lifted up my top.
“What's going on down there?” I fretted.
“Oh god,” Joe cried, “your stomach has exploded.”
I waddled to a mirror and recoiled in horror. Two large, gaping holes had appeared where my stitches had been.
We rushed back to hospital, where I had to stay for two weeks and allow my wounds time to heal. My stomach was a mess, and as well as my boobs being wonky, they'd also started to collapse. I was deflating.
“I can't go through with the wedding,” I wept. “I did all this to be a beautiful bride, but I'm more like a rotting corpse.”
Yet Joe was insistent. “It's what's inside that counts,” he said. “We're getting married, no matter what.”
By the time our big day finally arrived, I was a nervous wreck.
Walking up the aisle under the scorching sun in my made to measure dress, I may have looked great. But knowing what was hidden beneath the silk and diamante made me feel miserable.
Posing for wedding pics, I struggled to smile. It should have been the happiest day of my life but all I could think about was my broken body.
After the ceremony, Joe and I had a romantic beach picnic. But I had to cover up in a swimming costume, as I couldn't expose my scars to the sun. It was hardly the sexy honeymoon I'd dreamt of.
And when it came to consummating the marriage, I refused to turn on the lights.
“I'm like a monster,” I sobbed.
“You're beautiful,” Joe soothed.
I'd only had the surgery to make my wedding day perfect, Instead, it had ruined every moment.
Then, home after the wedding, I started having symptoms of an early menopause. My doctors told me it had been triggered by the shock of the surgery.
Not only had my body been destroyed, but my womanhood had been stolen too. I'll never get over what has happened to me.
Dawn, 42 Essex