Holy (and Unexpected) Matrimony
One phrase not often uttered upon being admitted to the hospital is, “I’m supposed to get married tomorrow.”
Larry Justus and Rose Reagan were to be wed Saturday, April 10, 2021. However, in the twilight hours of April 9, Justus arrived at LeConte Medical Center by ambulance with wrenching stomach pains, and he had been vomiting for several days. His sweetheart, Rose Reagan, knew he needed medical help. “We thought he had food poisoning,” Reagan recalls. “He was sick for several days and wasn’t getting better.”
Justus was admitted to LeConte and diagnostic testing revealed an intestinal obstruction. He was dehydrated but did not require surgery. Reagan was relieved her husband-to-be was going to recover, but he needed rest and recuperation. He would not leave the hospital in time for their planned nuptials. With a heavy heart, the bride-to-be made a series of phone calls on Friday morning to cancel what would have been the couple’s special day.
A Turn of Events
Reagan was crushed that circumstances had changed. But when the caring staff at LeConte Medical Center learned of the couple’s situation, a new plan began to form. “Give me a few minutes,” Reagan remembers hearing from Suzanne Ulino, RN, BSN, a nurse on LeConte’s med-surg unit. Ulino called her supervisor to open the hospital’s chapel. “Nurse Suzy” asked the couple if they would still like to be married on their planned date of April 10. The date was special because it was the wedding anniversary of Reagan’s dear aunt and uncle, who were happily married for more than 60 years.
The Big Day
Ulino arranged for Justus and Reagan to exchange vows in the chapel. Ulino captured photos and video of the memorable moment, and she signed their marriage license as the witness. “I’m thrilled that we were able to go ahead with it,” exclaims Reagan. “I know his condition could have been much more serious. We have a lot to be thankful for.” Ulino says that day was a wonderful experience. “As much as it was a blessing for them to be able to do the wedding, it blessed me as well. I am glad that I got to be a part of it and help make it happen,” she says. To the couple’s relief, Justus stayed only one more day for observation before going home with his new bride.
Planning a Future Together
Six weeks later, Justus and Reagan were able to hold a small outdoor gathering with friends and family. “We had to put the cake in the freezer,” Reagan laughs. The caterer and rental company were put on standby until the couple could celebrate. Excited loved ones included Reagan’s 4-year-old granddaughter, the flower girl, who was poised and ready for her shining moment. The pair looks forward to enjoying marital bliss by spending time in nature and traveling to the western United States on a three-week road trip.
Excellent Care at LeConte
The now-married couple described the excellent care at LeConte Medical Center as “above and beyond.” Reagan says, “It meant the world to us. Suzy was heaven-sent. When we got back to our rooms, she brought us a container with two pieces of cake, saying, ‘you can’t have a wedding without cake!’ Of course, Larry was only allowed one bite, but it was just so sweet and thoughtful.” Reagan beams. “We are just happy he’s alive and still have our future to plan. We are very thankful and feel very blessed.”