there’s nothing wrong…

it’s been nearly three months since my daughter became unwell started with this painful episode.

it was a snow day, school was cancelled, and she had been out playing with her friends. she gradually started feeling unwell – a tummy bug, i thought – but had no temperature and was not sick. after a day or so, the pain started, then worsened, and hasn’t gone away since.

i feel brow-beaten at times by the repeated assertion that there’s nothing wrong.

yes, it is important to be reassured. yes, the success of any follow-up psychotherapy relies on parental acceptance of the diagnosis. i know that.

at a consultation this week, the clinical psychologist took hold of my daughter’s hand and said, ‘There’s nothing wrong…’

i am sure she meant this in the kindest, most reassuring way.

but it is bewildering. what message does that give my daughter, who is in near continuous pain? how does she square ‘nothing wrong’ with what she feels?

and now i regret not saying, actually, there is something wrong – my daughter is in pain. the pain is disabling. it prevents her from living her life as she wants to.

it would have been more accurate if the clinical psychologist had said we don’t know what’s causing the pain.

i think it is more than an issue of semantics: nothing wrong speaks of certainty; we don’t know does not.

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4 Comments on “there’s nothing wrong…”

  1. Toni says:

    Please forgive my ignorance in asking.. I’d never heard of FAP before starting to read your blog..I’ve read through some of your links and get the general idea but..

    Do you accept in any way that there is no physical problem causing the pain? (I totally get your point about there being ‘something wrong’ by the way, clearly the clinical psychologist lacks in personal experience and tact) Throughout my reading, I couldn’t help but wonder if FAP is a diagnosis that actually means ‘we don’t know what the problem is yet because we don’t understand enough / there hasn’t been enough research’…? In which case, this puts you in the kind of impossible situation of not knowing whether to push for more physical information / tests or ignore your instinct that there might be a physical problem (do you have this instinct?? sorry, so many questions, I can’t even put them in the right order!) in order to go down the route that you seem to be being advised to go down (and be the ‘good parent’ that accepts the diagnosis)…?? Sorry, so many questions, I’m just really interested.

    • thanks for the question, Toni. yes, FAP is a diagnosis of exclusion – it tells you what it is not – but it is made using something called the Rome III Diagnostic criteria http://www.romecriteria.org/criteria/. there are links on that to the right of the page. no, in many it’s not a satisfactory diagnosis and very difficult to stop wondering if something might have been missed. functional gastrointestinal disorders are quite common. sometimes they can be disabling. i found this article very helpful (pdf file) http://www.articles.complexchild.com/00006.pdf. it’s been explained to me that for some reason that is not understood, my daughter is feeling pain when she shouldn’t, and ordinarily pain-free processes in her gut have become sensitized.

      my daughter is being reviewed again on Monday by an expert in pain in children and i very much hope he will be able to help.

  2. Sarah says:

    I’ve just found your blog, and following our discussion last week I wanted to reiterate that I have been in a similar position with the psychologist. I was told I needed to accept that all my daughter’s problems were behavioural as lots of investigations had been done and no one had found anything physically wrong. Fortunately for us we had one last test left, and this did show up an abnormality so no one has mentioned further psychological treatment to us. I started to believe the doctors and psychologist telling me that my daughter’s problems were behavioural and this had a negative effect on our relationship as I insisted she change behaviour that she could not help. If I could go back I would change to be more supportive of her during that time. We as the parents are the advocates for our children. Sometimes this means encouraging them to undertake treatment that will be good for them, but they are not keen on, sometimes it involves standing up to medical professionals who only observe your child for a short amount of time and do not know them as deeply as we the parents do. Good luck with everything you are going through.

    • it is so difficult – i feel pulled in one direction by my worry, and in another by the repeated assurance that there is nothing wrong. i am worried that my daughter’s pain becomes problematised – that she begins to be criticised for not coping better, for not trying harder…


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