Eyecatcher For adolescents

18-year-old boy

I am 18 years old and have had problems with headaches and migraines since I was about eight.

My pain was mostly in the forehead area, over and beside my eyes.

I tried many things to deal with my pain. First of all there were the “normal” headache tablets that anyone can buy in the drug store. I soon noticed that they didn’t work very well and my headaches continued. My family doctor realized that I didn’t have the usual occasional headaches. He immediately referred me to the Vestische Children’s and Adolescent’s Clinic in Datteln. Since then I’ve had a lot of contact with the clinic. The doctors went to a lot of trouble on my behalf, they of course wanted to know where my problem was. First I had weekly discussions with two psychologists and a couple of other kids. We exchanged notes about our pain and the nurses suggested various exercises/games. Partly relaxation exercises, but also active games. It was always very nice, because everybody there was very understanding. I soon knew more about how to get control of my tension-type headaches.

But over time my headaches kept getting worse. Several times a week and sometimes so bad that I had to cry in pain. We immediately turned to the clinic again. Again I had frequent talks with the doctors in charge of my case. From this point I started filling out the so-called headache diary. A diary in which I wrote about my headaches. It might sound funny, but nevertheless a thing which first and foremost allowed the doctors to get an even better impression of my pain. Whenever I had a headache, that is, a migraine, I wrote in my diary where the pain was, how it was, how bad it was, what I did about it and a few other things. Then this was all discussed at our meetings. During this whole time I was also taking medication. Prescribed tablets and a nasal spray. I soon knew which medication to take for which headache.

The intervals between the talks got longer again since I seemed to have pretty good control over my pain. The doctors hoped that my headaches might gradually decrease during my puberty. But at some point they got worse again. My migraines increased again and this time I went into hospital for four weeks. At this point I was 14 years old. Of course I was skeptical and didn’t know what awaited me there.

Looking back, I can say that it was the best hospital stay I ever had.

I very quickly got used to being in hospital. Everyone treated you very well.  But on the Lighthouse ward it isn’t like in a normal hospital. They don’t bring things to you in your room or serve you. You live there like in a big family, but a very pleasant big family. There is, for example, a wake-up chore, a breakfast chore, a clean-up chore for the dishes and so on. You arrange the chores in the group. Furthermore, you’re not allowed to lie around in bed all day; instead you have a daily routine, like at home. After breakfast I usually went to school. No worries, not my real school but only in small groups in a nice learning atmosphere. With others of my age and always with a teacher teaching the main subjects. Don’t let yourself be scared off, it’s better than in school. ;)

We had other activities like sports, of course the meals together, visiting hours, activities together and of course the most important one: therapy. Several times a week I was wired up to see how my heart and pulse rate was doing, for example. I was supposed to relax and I saw for myself how the lines became calmer. Daily talks, therapy and also relaxation exercises in a specially designated room - it all helped me. Furthermore, I liked it a lot that everyone on the ward accepted everyone else. Everyone had his or her own problem, but everyone knew also that the others were experiencing the same pain as them. The caregivers were very friendly and helpful; you could always ask them for something if you had a problem. On the whole a super nice atmosphere; no one was neglected or excluded.

In school on the other hand many laughed if you came to school late twice a week, for example, and gave a migraine as the reason. My teachers often said that they understood, but I noticed myself that not many really meant it seriously. Friends also sometimes took it lightly, but I think at that time they simply couldn’t understand how it was for me. After a while you simply don’t concern yourself with such people. My family always understood the situation. There are several people in my family with migraines, so the problems were already known. My doctors were of course always concerned about me and definitely wanted to get to the bottom of the problem.

I learned a lot during my stay in hospital. The most important thing was how to deal better with my pain. Since then, I take another medication which works really well.

To answer the most important question, how have I gotten control of my pain, I can really only answer with the hospital stay and the medication. Shortly after the stay the pain became generally less, I followed the doctors’ tips, such as less stress, for example. If I have pain again these days, I can decide what kind of pain it is. Whether it’s one of the many headaches or a bad migraine. If it’s a migraine attack, which happens much less today than before, I take medication and it helps me really fast. I could hardly believe it myself, but after only a short time the pain was gone. If I describe it to someone else, I always say, ”For me it’s like a miracle cure, it helps me to relieve my bad pain and to make it go away shortly after I take it.”

I am now 18 years old and am currently doing my Abitur at a high school. For exercise I play football in a club and do many other activities with friends.

At the beginning of September I’ll start my training program in business. J

Don’t let yourself be oppressed by your pain, and keep an open mind about it. You don’t have to concern yourself with anybody who doesn’t want to understand you. I myself am very happy that I did this.