Eyecatcher For adolescents

20-year-old young woman

I’m Svenja, 20 years old and was on the Lighthouse ward in Datteln twice.

Seven years ago a horse stepped on my left foot while I was doing horseback vaulting. After that I walked with a walker for a long time, took pain medication and consulted many different doctors. I had bad pain, but no one knew what could be causing it, nor how I could be helped. Pain that every patient in Datteln can probably understand.

For over two years I went to many different doctors, tried many things. Acupuncture, physiotherapy, swimming, TENS, osteopathy, lymph drainage, an operation and many other things. I was always well supported by my family in this. I didn’t have to take any new step alone in the course of all this. Nevertheless there were just as many people who didn’t want to understand, who didn’t take my pain seriously and in spite of whom I had to go my own way. Statements like “You’re imagining it”, “Don’t pretend like that” were the order of the day. Sometimes I even doubted myself.

Two years after the accident I had my first appointment in Datteln. Excitement, fear, doubt, questions, hope accompanied me. A couple of weeks afterwards I had a place on the Lighthouse ward.

I still know exactly how awful my first weeks there were. New people, many new rules, much that I didn’t understand and also a strict agenda full of bad pain. Every attempt to walk, every touch, every movement hurt.

Why should I go through this? They don’t even help me! Why should I do that again? Doesn’t even help! They never understand how I feel! Thoughts that accompanied me through the whole of the first weeks.

I wanted to call it off. But in the deciding talk the psychologist, Mrs. Rohr and my caregiver Alex and m y mother convinced me to do the opposite. We made a contract in which I agreed to try everything and to participate in order to walk out of the ward when discharged in an ordinary shoe.

For me a completely unattainable goal.

In my first two months in Datteln I learned a lot. With a graduated plan, physiotherapy, discussions, distraction, and many other tasks, I made progress, step by step. Especially the graduated plan was part of my daily program. Every time something to overcome. Tears, pain, always a part of it.

But I had my goal in mind. Before my accident I had done a lot of standard dancing. I was always sad not to be able to do that anymore. But that’s exactly what I wanted to do again – dance!

In Datteln I met many incredible people who supported me at every step, showed me my own strength, laughed a lot with me, distracted me and gave me a lot of strength. I met one of my best friends there. My family invested a lot of time and trouble to make the time there as pleasant as possible. Daily mail, photos, visits, outings and other similar things helped me to have fun and think about other things in spite of the pain.

Sometimes the therapy went simply, as if incidentally. First dance steps with my roommate, distraction walk with my dog along the canal, long discussions with another patient in the ice cream parlor, surprise visit from friends. Sessions in things like self defence gave me a lot of strength. I went with the feeling “I can’t do it” and left beaming because I was able to participate.

Even the worst moment of the whole stay I can now judge positively. The ward nurse came to me in the morning and simply took my walker away. I had to see to it that I then got to the toilet, to meals or to my therapy appointment. Believe me, in that moment I cursed everything. But exactly that helped me to finally walk out of the ward without a walker.

After the second stay I was without a walker and without pain medication. Today, five years later, I dance again.

At some point I got it into my head that I was going to determine my life, not the pain. At that point I understood that the people in Datteln really supported me. If you have the will power, you can achieve a lot!

If I want to dance, I dance. If I want to wear high heels, I do it. If I want to go for a walk, I take my dog and go. If I want to go swimming, I do it.

And that does me good! I want to live my life normally, not with limitations. Before Datteln I had to cancel many things, turn down friends’ invitations, but that is just what I don’t have to do anymore. Today no one notices or looks at me as if I have pain. I’m not reduced to my pain or judged by others anymore. No one questions what I can do or if I have pain anymore.

I still go to Datteln once a year to visit people I learned to value and to show to myself what I accomplished. What everyone can accomplish there!

I would advise anyone who comes to the Lighthouse not to give up. Have a goal in mind, have fun in spite of the pain, value the people who are there for you and make what you want out of your life!

Since the time in Datteln I have had to practice a lot, but I can live well with it today. I now study Education and Social Sciences (to which Datteln movtivated me!), live without a walker and pain medication and can judge the time in Datteln as really positive.


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