Eyecatcher For adolescents

17-year-old girl

I’m 17 years old. My pain was mostly located in the right side of the abdomen. It radiated to my back and leg.

Before I came to Datteln I already had several stomach operations and hospital stays behind me, but unfortunately I couldn’t be helped. I received strong pain medication, it unfortunately had little good effect but strong side effects. Besides the medication I also tried acupuncture and natural healing, as well as therapy to get my pain under control.

There were quite different reactions to my pain. I noticed that within my family my pain wasn’t just a burden to me. My parents tried everything to help me. They drove to various doctors’ offices with me, inquired about various ways to help me and were simply there for me. But I also noticed that they were very helpless and desperate because nothing helped me. I soon had a bad conscience because they were so worried and I robbed them of so much time. My parents were my biggest support.

I also noticed that my friends were worried and wanted to help me, even though they didn’t know how. It was different in school. I felt only pressure from most of my teachers who accused me of always being absent and not caring about school. When I wasn’t in school my teachers spoke negatively about me with other teachers and students. My classmates also made nasty remarks amongst themselves about me and made hurtful comments so that I very quickly felt unwell in school and my marks got worse.

There were various reactions from doctors. Most of them didn’t understand my problem and I often had the impression that they thought I was simply exaggerating. Regardless of which doctor I saw, none seemed to understand how bad the pain was. They always told me that the pain I had just couldn’t be, and that it could only be psychosomatic.

I had the worst experiences with doctors and teachers and often met with a lack of understanding for my pain. Without my family my experience of this time would have been much worse.

How did you find the time in Datteln and the time after the pain therapy?

At first I felt very uncertain. I was afraid I wouldn’t get along with the other patients and that the therapy wouldn’t help me.

The first day was really not easy; I had a lot of thoughts about what could happen. But it quickly became clear to me that my fears were unfounded. The other patients were very nice to me and I also got along well with my therapist.

I thought we were treated very well and I liked that we had certain chores. I already felt better after a few talks with my therapist. I had the feeling that I and my pain were finally understood and that I wasn’t alone. My therapist also helped me with a problem that had nothing to do with my pain.

When finally I had to go, I was very sad. I was sad because the Lighthouse ward had become a safe environment for me in those three weeks. Because I felt much better there and from then on I wouldn’t be seeing the other patients anymore.

When I got back home I had to get used to not seeing the therapist and patients anymore and instead to leading my old life again.

Did you get your pain under control?

Yes, I got my pain under control.

Because of my illness I will always have slight pain but Datteln showed me how I have to deal with it. I can’t say exactly what made my pain get better. At some point during my stay at Datteln it began to get better. I think it helped me the most to be understood and to know that I’m not as helpless as I thought before. I was shown various ways to distract myself from the pain and they explained how the pain arises; this helped me a lot. It also helped me to meet other people who have a similar fate to mine. I got to know some people who gave me a lot of strength. Some had a much worse time behind them than me and still managed not to let their pain get them down. Meeting these people gave me a whole lot of strength and courage.

Meanwhile it’s now more than a year since I was in Datteln. A few things have happened since then. I changed schools since I didn’t feel good at the old one anymore, and I decided to repeat two school years. That wasn’t an easy decision for me, but a good one. By changing schools I met a lot of new people and am getting much better marks.

I hardly feel my pain now and when it occasionally gets worse I try not to be influenced or limited by it. In Datteln I learned that you also have to think of yourself and not always put others before you. I try to stick to that.

The stay in Datteln also showed me that I can get along with people better than I thought. This realization helped me a lot with my change of school. It’s very nice that I still have contact with some of the patients and meet one of them regularly.

Looking back, it’s clear to me that Datteln was the best thing that could have happened to me. I’ve changed my life and my outlook completely, have learned not to let my pain get me down and got to know really great people.

Thank you for everything!