He thought he knew……
There is much loneliness in constant pain and suffering – a sort of desperate isolation that slams shut what meager connections we are able to form in this swift stream we call a life.
My husband was in two terrible car accidents when he was 14. The accidents were less than six months apart. In both accidents, he was t-boned by a car. He’s had back pain ever since – back pain that has required physical therapy and narcotic pain meds. There have been times when his back would lock and his knees would buckle out from under him, sending him to the floor to be stuck there until his body decided to calm down and unknot itself. He has osteoarthritis because of it.
My rheumatoid arthritis hit me hard and fast – hard and fast with no mercy, like a guard dog provoked, biting at my ankles when my body can go no further. Each chomp gets deeper. Each time he barks at me my exhaustion increases. I am at his mercy.
After two years of fighting my disease, my husband’s father, who was only 42 (he had been a teen father who had my husband when he was only 16 or 17), died of a massive heart attack. Unfortunately they were not close. Of course I can’t say for certain and have no scientific proof, but I think the emotional trauma triggered RA and fibromyalgia in my husband’s body. His pain and exhaustion began mimicking mine.
I knew what was wrong with him. I fought for him to be diagnosed.
One doctor said he was just depressed and wanted him to see a psychologist. He was too young at 26 to have osteoarthritis and there was no way he had RA. He kept getting dismissed. He was frustrated and wanted to give up. Everyone just thought his hands were thick because he is stocky. We finally found a great doctor who referred us. The rheumatologist sent him through the same battery of tests, saying there was no way he had RA. Just to be sure, she wanted to do a sonogram of his hands because those hurt the worst.
She found the bite marks – fluid and inflammation on his wrists and hands.
I cried. I cried so deeply that the tears came from a sad pool of ache inside my soul. He tried to comfort me for days. He said he could handle it and he would be okay. He just didn’t know. I couldn’t describe to him what his future was going to be like. I had no words. I just had deep, intense sadness that shrouded me in stillness causing me to be tacit and phantasmal.
So, I watch him fight, struggle against the pain and exhaustion. My heart aches when he is pale with rings around his eyes, and it takes him 45 minutes to sit up in bed in the morning. He had been my caretaker, but more often than not I am his now.
I hate this disease and what it does to my body. I hate how it torments me and rips into me and maims me beyond all recognition of my former self. But, it is much worse watching my husband; there is nothing in this whole wide world like watching the love of your life have to face the pain and torment that you do.
The other day it happened. He stood in front of me in our living room, rubbing his left hand with his right, eyes sunk in and back hunched a bit from the ache. When he spoke there was something in his voice that I had never heard before. He almost whispered to me about the beastly dog biting at his body. It was never going to go away. He was stuck in a steel trap that has since rusted shut.
I looked at him, hearing the sadness and pain etched into the timbre of his voice – and I knew then that he finally knew what real pain is. Something inside me broke and went still.