Feature Friday: In Sickness And In Health

This week’s feature is about my dear friends Danielle and Pat. They have been married for just over three years now and known each other since high school. For as long as I’ve known Pat and Danielle they’ve been a package deal. They have many of the same friends, love spending time with their extended family members, and even work for the same company. One thing I really love about their relationship is how they both look out for one another and take turns leaning on each other.

I asked Pat if he’d like to do a feature about his beautiful wife to surprise her, and he was quick to oblige. Talking to Pat about Danielle made me tear up when I saw the clear adoration he had for her. Here is their story about how special marriage can be and getting through hardships together once you’ve committed your life to someone.

Pat and Danielle got married in April, 2013. They had a beautiful outdoor wedding in the Virginia countryside with their closest friends and family, then honeymooned on a cruise ship and traveled to a handful of tropical islands to celebrate their marriage.

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Six short months after their wedding their fairytale came to a hard stop. Danielle woke up with intense chronic pain and after weeks of testing learned that she had something called fibromyalgia. Neither she nor Pat had heard of the illness, but he quickly began researching everything from different doctors to take her to and dietary changes that might help manage the pain. He kept his full-time job and took on a new one — fighting fibromyalgia with his wife. They made all of the lifestyle changes together to make things as easy on Danielle as they could possibly be in such a tough situation. They ate all of the same meals, worked out at the gym together, and went to her appointments hand in hand. He told me,

“Marriage isn’t about the husband and wife as individuals. Everything you do, you do together.”

Pat knew Danielle was in constant pain and felt helpless. He couldn’t do anything to fix the woman he loved and vowed to care for. He said that he would take all of the pain and exhaustion in a heartbeat if it meant Danielle would be better — this, friends, is the definition of selfless love.

“The most difficult part is not being able to do anything about her illness. There is no tangible ‘thing’ to go after and treat, as it is an illness diagnosed purely based on symptoms. It gets exhausting when you see doctor after doctor who are all blindly chasing after ten different symptoms and prescribing ten different kinds of medications which all have their fair share of side effects. You feel defeated. The fact that I can’t fix this for her is the hardest thing I’ve had to come to terms with.”

I was surprised to learn that fibromyalgia hasn’t really changed their relationship. Pat told me that the only major difference is that he has become more in tune with how Danielle is feeling and when she might have to take it a little easier one day. They also somtimes have to cancel plans on friends and can’t go out as much, but they’ve learned to adapt to this new lifestyle by enjoying one another’s company in the comfort of their own home. Thier favorite activities include snuggling with their Boxer Bentley, watching movies together, or relaxing outside by the lake. It isn’t a typical life of a twentysomething, but they are truly, genuinely happy together.

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“You’ll have to excuse my language, but Danielle in my mind is THE most badass woman I know. I don’t know anyone who can have their world turned upside down and make such a remarkable recovery. She is one of the most headstrong people I have ever met. Any time we found a new way fibromyalgia was trying to put a damper on our life plans, that woman would stick the proverbial middle finger to it and just truck along. As a husband watching your wife kick ass and take names is the most humbling and honoring experience. Whenever I have something go wrong in my life I look to her and remember how much work she has done and how far she has come — it reminds me to stay grounded. It reminds me that no matter how hard life gets or how hard you think your life is, in the end it really isn’t that bad.”

Anytime Pat talks about Danielle you can tell how much he loves her by the smile on his face. It makes me happy to know that these two wonderful people met each other, fell in love, and made their relationship work — through thick and thin.

I don’t think there is a word that exists to describe my feelings for my wife. She has been there for me and with me through my darkest of days and has been there through my brightest. She has corrected me when I was wrong, and accepted me when I was right. She is my best friend. She knows everything about me, and I her. We keep each other’s darkest secrets and share our greatest triumphs. This woman is the quintessential definition of a perfect wife, a perfect partner and a perfect friend. I never knew I could love someone as much as I love Danielle. I just hope that other people find the kind of love to where you sacrifice everything you are to your spouse.”

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