Amanda Mattheisen has endured chronic back pain since a car accident thirteen years ago. At times, the pain was so bad it controlled her life. Surgeries and drug treatments brought no relief.
Eventually, Mattheisen turned to Mayo Clinic’s two-day Pain Rehabilitation Program, a program designed to help people whose pain cannot be cured to learn how to improve their lives despite the pain. Mattheisen arrived to the program on Feb. 13 with her boyfriend Charles Buggs along for support, and during a stretching exercise on the second day of the program, Mattheisen’s boyfriend became her fiancé.
“We were doing lunges. I couldn’t go down on my knee … so he went down onto his knee and asked me for my left hand,” explains Mattheisen, who looked down to see Buggs holding a ring from her mother that she’d always wanted.
“I’d been carrying [the ring] around in my pocket for a couple of days. Trying to find the right moment,” says Buggs. “The opportunity presented itself, so I did it.”
“It was so unexpected,” says Mattheisen. “I always told him that I didn’t want to get engaged on Valentine’ Day … so I was never expecting it on Valentine’s Day.”
According to Joan Cronin, Pain Rehabilitation Program, the engagement was much more than a surprise. It was an inspiration for others in the program and the staff. “Our programs are about living life more fully and looking at life in a positive way … despite any chronic condition,” says Cronin. “So what a reward we got today by seeing a young couple that had basically said we’re going to have a life together and we’re going to make it work … despite the pain.”