Parents of kids with special needs deal with it every single day. Not only our children’s pain, which is what springs to mind for most moms and dads when the topic arises.
But also our own chronic pain.
We all experience it. Our pain can be caused by the physical demands of caregiving. It can be mental and emotional pain exacted by sleep deprivation, the trauma of seeing our children suffer, or an unrelenting string of diagnoses and treatments. For Christians, chronic pain can be spiritual–sure, God says he’s always with us and that children are precious to him, but circumstances make us doubt his promises.
We ignore the pain and push it down.
But it’s still there. Bubbling below the surface and erupting at the most inconvenient times. Like when the receptionist at the doctor’s office can’t get you in at the time you requested, and you burst into tears. Or when your spouse makes an innocent comment about supper, and you rip into him with the ferocity of a Bengal tiger. Or when your child whines after being told to put away her toys, and you respond with a phrase you vowed you would never say when you became a parent. That’s when you realize it’s time to do something about your own pain.
I’ve been pondering and praying about that question for years. Not only concerning my own pain, but also that of other hurting parents who have shared their stories. Not too long ago God provided an answer, at least in part, during a conference workshop. The speaker was Dr. Stefan Friedrichsdorf, who is the medical director at the Department of Pain Medicine, Palliative Care & Integrative Medicine for the Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. Part of his workshop addressed treating chronic physical pain in children and adolescence.
Something he said has been niggling at my brain ever since.
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Jolene Philo is the author of the Different Dream series for parents of kids with special needs, as well as three other books about caregiving and special needs. Her latest book, Does My Child Have PTSD? was released in October of 2015. She speaks at parenting and special needs conferences across the country and hosts Different Dream Living, a blog for special needs families and other caregivers. You can connect also connect with Jolene via Facebook, Pinterest, or on Twitter at @jolenephilo.