When Pain Takes Over

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By Lisa Tice
RCA military chaplain, Andrews Air Force Base MD
Breaking Barriers Summer 2014

When I first met my husband, Jonathan, I had no idea how much he suffered. He talked about surgery that he had as a child, but nothing appeared unusual. He had a wonderful sense of humor, a sense of adventure, and a depth of theological knowledge that astounded me. I had no idea how much he suffered, because he kept it hidden.

When we dated, he mentioned his pain but never dwelt on it. Occasionally he wasn’t feeling up to going out, but those times were rare. We were like most newlyweds, completely in love and happy. I eventually started my military chaplaincy career and he became a specialized interim minister. We traveled and enjoyed life together.

But with each move, his health deteriorated and his pain increased. Another round of surgery and a life-threatening staph infection made things worse. We sought out a variety of medical specialists to find a way to alleviate the pain, but there is no easy fix. Now, we only seek to find a way to bring the pain down to an acceptable level.

Chronic pain has shaped our lives and it has isolated us. We don’t get out much and we don’t travel. I feel helpless as I watch Jonathan suffer. I covet the moments when he makes me laugh or shares his keen insight on the world. More often, I cry out of frustration with insurance, or I stress over balancing work, caring for our son, and trying to improve my culinary skills. Every day I pray for an end to his pain. I dream of his finding relief and of us enjoying a happy retirement, but I know that it is only a dream.

If someone were to ask me if I still would have married him—knowing how much he suffered then and would suffer now—I would answer yes. Every moment of joy that we have shared is a ray of light that helps me forget the darkness of chronic pain.

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Sherri Maat

Sherri Maat

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