Eyecatcher For adolescents

15-year-old girl

How old are you?

Hello! My name is Annika and I’m 15 years old.

Where did you have pain?

In November 2011 I had an accident at school in which a classmate kicked a table and my right hand was jammed between my body and the table. After a tendon and knuckle tear in the ring and baby fingers, the right hand was affected by chronic pain syndrome. It was hard for me to do many simple daily tasks. It was especially hard that I could hardly write for more than five minutes at a time, that I couldn’t think of playing my flute, because I couldn’t manage to push the keys down anymore.

What all did you try?

One doctor’s visit followed another. None of them could really help me. From many I only got helpless shrugging of the shoulders, or pills that also didn’t help. One would say keep still while another said keep moving. But the worst was the doctor who thought I was nuts because I was still too young for chronic pain.  He implied that I was lazy and just had a problem in the head. I shouldn’t pretend like that because I only had something wrong with my hand.

The physiotherapy, lymph drainage and ergotherapy brought a bit of relief. My fingers became a bit more flexible again with those methods. Many things were tried out such as cooling, warming with paraffin baths, kineso-taping, etc.

How did others react to your pain?

My parents and my brother always stood and still do stand fully and completely behind me and motivate me daily although I certainly haven’t made it easy for them.

All my friends have supported me where they could. Regardless of whether it was taking over copying homework notes or now and then one or another assignment with my hobbies (Pathfinders or Thor Heyerdahl) when I couldn’t. Now they all encourage me to do it alone again.

I had good experiences with the doctors regarding my pain first in the Herner Children’s Surgery as well as in the Vestische Children’s and Adolescents’ Clinic in Datteln, Lighthouse ward. Everyone is very nice there and they always listened to me and stood beside me with help and advice.

In my school I found no understanding at all, no one helped me, not even my own class teachers. They saw that I currently had a handicap, rather a problem. Besides, they didn’t really approve of me going to Datteln a second time.

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

I went for pain therapy at Datteln twice. There for the first time I got to know other kids with the same symptoms, genuine friendships developed and we continue to  exchange information!

After early difficulties during the first stay since I in no way wanted to stay there 5 weeks, I got used to the place very quickly (it didn’t take 2 hours) and I was already in Datteln City with a group of girls for afternoon ice cream. The second time I even agreed to lengthen it by three days.

The daily routine in the clinic was good. Besides school there were many discussions, sports events, physiotherapy, afternoons with the whole ward  (for example, bowling, eating ice cream, going for walks, crafts, etc.), learning pain strategies, art therapy, music therapy, psychomotor therapy and much more...

Looking back, the time there was very good and helpful. I learned to get my pain better under control there. Our daily life at home is almost like it was before the accident.

Have you got control of your pain, and if so, how?

With the help of the graduated plan I have increased the ability of my hand to do more and more things. The pain has decreased. Besides, I learned mirror therapy.

What helped you?

The TENS apparatus is very helpful and I still use it daily. If needed, I still use the 54321-technique, the safe place and the pain ABC.

What’s happening in your life now? What have you achieved since your stay in Datteln?

At present I’m busy preparing for the ZAP exam at real school. Besides that ,further placement tests and interviews. I hope I’ll be able to get a training place in my dream career as inland ship’s mate. We’ll see! Otherwise I’ll continue to go to school and try to do my Abitur.

In my remaining free time after ergo and physiotherapy I go to my weekly flute lesson again, even though I can’t yet manage to play for the full hour. My big aim is to get on my ship, the “Thor Heyerdahl”, to participate in shipyard time and then finally progress through the training from trainee to deckhand.