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PTSD & Pain: A Spouse’s Point of View…

Constant pain, stress, nightmares waking us both up in the middle of the night as my husband literally jumps up during the night on high alert, looking for the threat in our bedroom, trying to figure out where he is. All things my husband lives with on a daily basis. We don’t live in a high-crime area, nor is there an actual threat in our home. But my husband can’t help it. He’s not always here in our room, in our home, when he finally falls asleep at night.

Young man having depression sitting on the bedAs the spouse of a veteran, these are all common events in our lives that I’ve learned to not be alarmed by anymore. I’ve got it down to a routine. I know I have to be very careful about putting my arm around him when he’s already asleep, and when he jumps up during the night, I calmly let him know I’m there and remind him that we’re safe, we’re at home, we’re in our bedroom. Some nights he’s able to go back to sleep relatively quickly, other nights it takes a bit longer for his heart to stop racing and his nerves to calm down.

In addition to nightmares waking my husband (and me by proxy), the constant pain my husband is in affects so much of our everyday lives. He’s broken his hip, had his femur cracked lengthwise  down the middle, and both feet broken. His back hurts, his neck hurts, his hip hurts, everything hurts. He’s not able to do things like take a walk with me and the dogs around the block, and going to visit places causes him a lot of pain when we have to walk for “extended” periods of time (extended for him, short amounts of time for someone without injuries). Doing things like walking in a grocery store hurts him. And mowing the lawn? Well, that’s something we both have to pitch in for.

We use to enjoy working out together. We met while running and use to share that together as well. I’ve gotten use to our “new” life in which I do all these things alone. And while I’m comfortable enough to do those things by myself and put myself out there alone to new groups to run and lift, I still wish my husband could enjoy all these things with me. They were, after all, the catalyst that brought us together in the first place.

Now, more than ever though, I just want my husband to be pain free. I’m sick of seeing him suffer and I hate that he can’t enjoy life like he use to. I grew up with the same situation as my father was broken down from his military service and he couldn’t interact with us as children. I don’t want that for my husband. I want him to seek help now. So what’s stopping him? It surely hasn’t been the lack of resources. No, I go to a chiropractor regularly, but he won’t go. Acupuncture? Counseling? You can scratch those off the list too. Why? It all comes back to the military and the fear of information getting back to his CO (Commanding Officer) and on his record.

If you’re familiar with the military, you know the fear that information will somehow get back to someone.  My husband was worried that if it got back that he went to see a chiropractor, though there is one on post, that he’d have “back problems” slapped on his record and his chance of going to a specific school be taken away from him. Counseling? Same thing. There’s such a stigma about getting help and it just kills me (and 22 veterans every day).

Thankfully, there is help, there is hope, and there actually IS confidentiality. Utilizing the treatment Scot Somes of Veterans Acupuncture Center of Colorado offers for the men and women (and their families!) who serve our country is strictly confidential. Scot does not report to the VA or to anyone else who he treats. As a veteran himself he knows what it’s like to deal with those stigmas, to worry about who knows. He cares enough to do something about it by adhering to strict confidentiality.

Man with his dog playing in the park

Scot has finally given hope to husbands and wives who so desperately want help for their spouses, who want a normal life again. Many of the sacrifices we make are well-known: you see our beautiful homecoming pictures and tear-jerking videos. But what isn’t seen are the nightmares (literally and figuratively) that we battle in our everyday lives in the aftermath of the line of duty and training. What won’t be widely spread are Facebook videos of how normal our lives are again. But we’ll know, and I look forward to you knowing too.




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