Adele Uden, 26, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire won't let her mystery condition hold her back...
No, this picture hasn’t been smudged. That’s how my face actually looks – inky-blue across my cheeks, nose and forehead.
Every time I’m out, strangers stare. Some even ask if my boyfriend’s been hitting me.
‘He wouldn’t raise a finger to me,’ I tell them.
My boyfriend Chris, 26, has given up so much – including his chef job – to become my carer.
He’s my hero.
The two of us go way back. We dated as teenagers, growing up in Mansfield.
Then, when I was 17, I was offered my dream job at a dog shelter.
But there was a snag – it was in Kent.
So Chris and I drifted apart. But then, four years ago, we got in touch again on Facebook.
By that point, I had my little boy Zak.
Zak’s 7 now, but when he was about 14 months, I suddenly started bleeding and had this terrible pain across my stomach.
At first, doctors thought I had a grumbling appendix. But, during surgery to investigate, it was found the scar tissue from my Caesarean was tearing.
When surgeons tried to remove the scar tissue, they discovered severe damage to my left Fallopian tube, so it had to be removed.
And, after further tests at Mansfield’s King’s Mill Hospital,
I was diagnosed with endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
Still, it didn’t explain why I was in constant agony.
Put on morphine, before I knew it, I was on 220 tablets a week, just to manage the pain, and keep my conditions in check.
Worse was the bleeding. Every few weeks, I’d haemorrhage badly.
Rushed to hospital for blood transfusions, I nearly died on more than one occasion.
It meant I couldn’t work. And I only just finished the counselling course I’d been taking at college.
Sometimes, the pain was so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed or walk far on my own. I needed a wheelchair to go long distances.
Thank God for my mum Karen, 56. She only lived round the corner, and would just drop everything whenever I needed her.
‘I’m missing out on my life,’ I cried to her one day, stuck in bed again with crippling pain.
And doctors still didn’t know what was causing it. None of the conditions I had would result in that amount of agony or bleeding.
If I was to haemorrhage too severely, lose too much blood…Well, it didn’t bear thinking about.
And none of it made me a great catch.
‘That’s not going to put me off,’ Chris smiled when I told him.
Things moved quickly between us, and we soon moved in together.
Chris was great with Zak, and just as good with me when I was having a bad day.
Then, out of nowhere, blue patches started to appear on my face.
They were faint at first – but soon, darker, bigger patches appeared.
‘What’s going on?’ I cried to the doctor, frantic.
‘We don’t know,’ he admitted. ‘I’ve never seen anything like this.
Referred to a haematologist, I was told it was likely the patches were caused by blood building up under my skin.
But even the haematologist, who hadn’t seen it before, couldn’t be sure what it was.
Thankfully, it didn’t hurt. The patches would come and go, and no-one could explain why.
Sometimes, my face would be covered – and then, by the next morning, the blue would’ve faded away again.
‘I look like I’ve been punched,’ I’d sob to Chris.
At their worst, no amount of concealer could hide the patches.
I’d have to put up with people staring whenever we went out.
‘Ignore them,’ Chris would say.
And I did my best, but it really got me down sometimes.
I wanted to scream and shout, ‘Why me?!’ What had I done to deserve any of this?
When I felt down, I tried to think of all the things I had to be grateful for: Zak, Chris, Mum…
Then, one day last July, I haemorrhaged so badly, I was drifting in and out of consciousness for four days.
When I came to, the doctor said it’d been touch and go. And that’s when Chris proposed to me.
‘We have to make the most of every moment together,’ he said.
With neither of us working, money was tight. So I started looking online for ways to win a wedding…
And I won us a venue, free of charge – just by signing up to a website.
That’s how wedding-planning company Bespoke Weddings heard about my story.
They got in touch, promised to do everything to sort our dream day.
Natasha, who works there, put out appeals for us. Soon, loads of local companies had come forward, offering to help with suit hire, flowers, a DJ – even my dress. And it was all given out of the goodness of people’s hearts.
The date’s set for 4 May, and I can’t wait!
Doctors have recommended I have a full hysterectomy before then, to stop the haemorrhaging.
Only, that would mean never having any more kids. And I’m not sure I’m ready to make that decision.
I want to have a child with Chris – a little brother or sister for Zak.
But it could mean the difference between life and death…
In January, I set up a website and blog to reach out to others with similar conditions. I’m in touch with people all over the world.
Chris and I don’t know what the future holds for us, or how long we have together.
But I don’t even care if my face is blue on my wedding day, because I’ll be so happy, nothing else will matter.
Besides, Chris always makes me feel beautiful.
So, as far as I’m concerned, the future can throw whatever it wants at me and I’ll deal with it.
With Chris by my side, I’m strong and ready for anything.
Check out Adele’s website at blog.byebye-blues.com