Eyecatcher For adolescents

18-year-old young woman


My name is Eva-Maria and I’m 18 years old. I’m currently in 12th year at high school.

Anybody who sees me now thinks that I’m just a crazy little young woman who has the typical daily stress and who thinks more about the next shopping spree than about pain. But you wouldn’t have thought that about me for over three years when pain was the highest priority in my life. That means, my self-confidence, my friends, the fun in life, my hobbies – among them, mostly sports - , my engagement in school, my family - everything suffered from the pain!

But how did it come to that?

14.12.2009: We were playing soccer at school and someone stepped lightly on my foot. I gritted my teeth and kept on playing. If I had known that such a simple step would lead to years of torture and chronic pain, I would never have gone to school that day.

The pain spread to my whole foot – permanently!

The doctor hopping started then: week-long hospital stays and complete medical examinations: removal of tissue, pain medication, antibiotics, cortisone treatment ... everything was tried and nothing helped. Myself, I also had no tactic to help myself or even to relieve the pain. It was all too much for me!

After uttering the words, “I’m sorry but the pain medication isn’t helping me, it’s just making everything worse!” I was just seen as a malingerer and had to let some things wash over me. I was passed from doctor to doctor and each one made different diagnoses and made us increasingly fearful.

My family suffered just as I did. If the child is sick, then so are the parents! But my family always believed me and stood behind me; they simply couldn’t imagine how it is to be in pain 24 hours a day, but they encouraged me, strong as I am! At first friends came to visit often but soon I was neglected by many of them because I couldn’t do what an adolescent does in her free time. Besides they couldn’t get what it means to have chronic pain. How can that be? As a young person you should think better thoughts than that! In these last few years I really saw who my true friends were and who was there for me in my time of need!

But not only adolescents but also adults were often clueless. And so there were often differences of opinion between me and my teachers: “I can’t imagine it, Eva-Maria! You laugh so often and don’t let on that you aren’t feeling well!”

I always defended myself with the words, “If I smile it doesn’t mean that I’m happy. I have often laughed in order not to have to cry!”

Still live a normal life? I hadn’t thought so for a long time and had already given up in my mind and had already seen myself as an adult in a wheelchair. But then I had the chance and I used it: In July 2012 I fought for a place in Datteln and was admitted to the ward on 3.12.2012.

Five weeks of pain therapy: I was warmly welcomed and for the first time understood. I met other kids who had the same problem and it gave me the feeling that I wasn`t helpless and alone in this situation.

The nurses were always there for me, for crying it out as well as uncertain decisions, they had good advice for me and supported me. They motivated me so much that I soon felt the need to try out new things and put my fears behind me. I did every therapeutic exercise that interested me and wasn`t forced to do anything!! These were organized in a graduated plan that was increased every other day. They tried to make the therapy as pleasant as possible, and the program was quite varied: physiotherapy, one-on-one talks, music and art therapy, swimming, school, afternoons together...

I always had my little successes and was all the more excited about being able to show them to my family on the weekend.

But the most important thing in these five weeks was that I learned strategies to control the pain and even to forget it. The psychologist in charge of me helped me a lot with this plan, and I was astounded at how many techniques there were. These techniques are very easily understood, but take a lot of concentration at first.

Then five weeks were over and I went home with the knowledge of what I had learned in Datteln and which goals I still had before me. The coming four weeks were very difficult and strenuous. I had to get used to my daily life again and combine it with my pain therapy. Many days it was too much for me and I tried to keep my recovery and my health in the foreground.

I now had to try to draw up my own plan and to work towards my goals. But that was more difficult than I thought!

After these four weeks I had an outpatient appointment, I was able to ask questions about the problems that had com e up, and tips were given to me to help me deal with them.

And now?? April 2013:

Exactly four months have gone by since my first day on the pain therapy ward in Datteln.

Pain? I laugh about it! I fought the battle with pain and won! A real downer after the first four weeks really made me think again and I asked myself if I wasn`t a fighter and if I wanted to lose this big chance.

I now had the decision: Are you going to let yourself go and lose the battle with your pain or will you get up and declare war on it? I have thought out further distraction techniques, taken the graduated plan further and am continuing to get physiotherapy. Furthermore, I have argued with myself very intensely and have received a lot of strength from my family. I tried to find my self-confidence again – which had decreased a lot in the last three years – and really forced myself to do activities that I used to find fun. By doing this I have again learned how to have joy in life. I have won the power that I need for pain control and don`t just hang around my usual surroundings. I have learned to voice my own opinion again and also to say no if I don`t like something.

All this has led to me not having chronic pain anymore and I`ve been able to reduce my pain level (1-10) from the earlier average 8 points down to 2 to 3. If an attack of pain overcomes me I now know how to deal with it, and I have it under control and after a short time the pain is forgotten and I can turn back to my activities.

Since I finished the pain therapy in Datteln I have achieved a lot: I walk totally without crutches, can put on any shoes, socks and pants. Besides, I have started driving again.

My motor skills have greatly improved: I can even feel cold and warmth on my foot again and can tolerate it without having pain. I can walk barefoot over a great many fabrics, materials or surfaces. I can touch my foot again and have the feeling that my right foot belongs 100% to my body again.

If I think about it, I`ve become a new person. I have found my laugh and my self-confidence again and don`t find life so grim anymore. I’m glad for every second without pain and for every bit of progress I make.

I know that it will still be a long way to a completely pain-free life, but what is it they say? In peace lies strength!

And who do I have to thank for all this? My family who always supported me and always believed firmly in me `till the present day, my true friends who share my free time with me so wonderfully and continue to distract me and of course the German Children`s Pain Center and the nurses, psychologists, physiotherapists and therapists there who taught me a lot and thereby gave me the hope for a normal life and helped me to follow the right path for my health!

Thanks to Datteln!


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