Parenting a Child Who is in Chronic Pain

SG - Clancy and Julie

Julie and her son, Clancy

About two years ago, my son had a sore stomach. No biggie. I’ve nursed countless sore stomachs and have been knee deep in kiddo vomit. This was in my wheelhouse. Here’s the thing, though. It NEVER went away, and it was PAINFUL and CONSTANT.

For the first while, I just tried to distract him and get the bowels moving to see if that was the problem. We considered the possibility of stress/anxiety, because we all know that brain/gut connection is closely linked. After exploring that, we ruled it out. I eventually took him to the doctor, who arranged for us to see a pediatrician. The pediatrician referred us to a pediatric gastroenterologist.

Months and months passed and there was ZERO improvement. In my frustration, I eventually turned up with him at the children’s hospital and said, “we’re not leaving until I find out what’s wrong with this kid.”

Mama Bear had finally had enough. You can only watch your kid suffer for so long. He missed almost two years of school, two hockey seasons, an end of year school trip and countless other opportunities. It was heart-breaking.

After many tests and scans, we still don’t really have answers. The doctors have said that sometimes kids just have inflammation and abdominal migraines. They can last a couple of years, then just disappear.

Cue the waiting game. Again.

As we search for answers and ways to cope, here’s what we have learned has been helpful for my kid:

  • Being on a gluten-free and dairy-free diet.
  • Speaking with a therapist regularly who specializes in helping children who deal with chronic pain.
  • Anxiety medication. Pain and anxiety go together. When someone is in chronic pain, the moment they are not in pain, they feel anxious about the pain returning. It’s a vicious cycle.
  • He has a rating system for his pain. If it’s on the lower level on the scale, he tries to push through the pain to do activities or go to school.

This has been a trying two years. The last few weeks, I have had a glimmer of hope. His pains are fewer and further in between. I’m finally feeling hopeful.

Do you have a child with a chronic pain or health condition? Are you working through a complex diagnosis or treatment plan? What are your survival tips?

Picture of Julie Cole

Author: Julie Cole

Julie Cole is the co-founding vice-president of award-winning children's label manufacturer Mabel’s Labels. She has helped her company bring their product to a worldwide market, gain media recognition and win countless entrepreneur awards. Cole is a regular television contributor, an influential and syndicated blogger and a mother of six. Follow her on twitter @juliecole and Instagram @cole.julie

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