Eyecatcher For adolescents

19-year-old girl

I am 19 years old and due to an injury resulting from a car accident (I was 13 then) I had headaches in the back of my head that sometimes spread to my forehead. This pain became chronic because of inadequate medicinal treatment, so that I woke up day after day with pain, if I could sleep at night. After several hospital stays for medicinal and diagnostic review, a doctor recommended me to a pain therapist. An appointment was soon arranged and I soon began a medicinal pain therapy program. Several pain medications were tried out in order to find the best one for me.

My family and friends stood by me right through this period. The doctors I was seeing also went to great pains to help me. In spite of bad pain I still enjoyed going to school and learning. Classmates and teachers were understanding, which made my situation easier. But there were still days when I had to leave class because of my pain, even though I would have loved to stay for math, my favorite subject.

Meanwhile my parents were made aware of the Vestische Children’s and Adolescents’ Clinic inpatient pain therapy program in Datteln – not least because of my pediatrician. A short time later – in May 2008 – at the age of 14 I began the inpatient stay there.

When I consider the whole of the three-week stay I can say that I and other young patients suffering from chronic pain were offered a variety of (distraction) strategies and activities aimed at controlling pain (sports activities, school lessons in the main subjects, distraction techniques such as the “ABC Method”, individual talks with psychologists, family talks and also art and music therapy). The concept combines psychology with medicine. As a patient I was offered the possibility of sifting through the various ways of pain control in order to take with me the methods that helped me the most. One should not let this chance go in view of the possibility of further chronification of pain! Thanks to the explanation of the “Vicious Cycle of Pain”, which is very logical and easily understood, it was shown to me that I can manage to avoid this – though of course not overnight.

While I was on the “Lighthouse” ward, I became aware that I was not the only one who had to fight pain day after day! Each person had his or her own story and pain. I was relieved that I didn’t have to explain time after time what I had; it was bad enough to have chronic pain, but having to constantly explain the details to everyone sometimes bothered me a lot.

I had a lot of great experiences in Datteln. After my stay there my pain was only slightly reduced, which finally caused me to start medicinal pain therapy again. After the right medication was found, the pain diminished bit by bit until I was pain-free. That took a while, but it was definitely worth it! Today I’m pain free a lot of the time. However, there are still phases of bad pain now and then, which are kept to a minimum with the help of effective medication.

All in all I can say that my perception of pain has changed over the years. I don’t attach importance to my pain if it arises as part of a phase. I’m aware that it is there; I register its presence, but nothing more.

I think it’s important to find out for yourself what helps you. Every pain is unique and has its own individual consequences, so that not every method can be used by everyone. Each of us finds a way to deal effectively with the pain in the course of time. In my opinion it is important to stick with whatever gives you pleasure, and don’t give up. In this way I didn’t lose my joy and fascination for natural sciences! Even though the pain was really bad, I didn’t lose my enthusiasm for working on complex subjects and assignments! It was: grit your teeth and onward with differential equations.

To all those who also suffer from chronic pain and think your situation is hopeless, I would like to encourage you to take up the fight against your pain, because it is worth it! Take courage and do something about your pain! You have more power than you would believe! You will manage to get your pain under control!

I passed my Abitur with an average mark of 1.3 (and that in spite of a phase of pain in my 12th year). Soon I will begin my medical studies.