Book Review by Carolyn Noel, PAINS Webmaster
You are not alone! From the first chapter of Pain in Children & Young Adults: The Journey Back to Normal, Doctors Lonnie and Paul Zeltzer bring hope to millions of parents looking for guidance in the road to understand their child’s chronic pain. They share information based on their years of experience in treating children with chronic pain — and share insights learned from the parents. As the parent of a child who lives with pain, I would highly recommend this book to all parents walking this difficult road and their healthcare providers.
At age eight, my daughter was diagnosed with a large, inoperable hemangioma which basically marbles the muscle in her forearm. I tried to explain to her that the doctors couldn’t remove it without removing her arm. I’ll never forget the day she came home from school and explained that she was tired of being in pain all of the time and it would be ok to amputate her arm because a little boy at school only had one arm and he could teach her how to tie her shoes with one hand. It broke my heart that I didn’t know how to help her. I tried to learn what I could, but the information that I needed just wasn’t available. Twenty years later, there is finally a book that addresses pediatric pain in a way that is encouraging and uplifting.
The question is not how to get cured…but how to live. –Joseph Conrad
What Parents Can Learn
The writers address everything from the beginning of the journey and understanding what pain is and what the parent can expect, the emotional impact of pain on parent and child, information on multi-modal treatments for pain and “getting back to normal…day-to-day stuff.” Illustrations in the book help the reader to visualize complex medical information in a way that can be understood by parents without “dumbing down” the language they will likely hear from their healthcare providers.
As a layperson and someone who lives with pain, I found myself learning things about pain that I didn’t know. Parents, regardless of where they are in their journey with pain, will learn things they didn’t know – and come away with a positive outlook on the possibilities for their child. The Zeltzers do not pull punches on the reality of living with pain. They deliver the hard truths in a way that prepares parents for the difficult journey they are on, however, they do so in a way which includes resources, success stories and instills hope for “getting back to normal”.
The first section of the book includes detailed explanations on various causes of pain with input from experts in those particular fields–including a discussion of diseases associated with chronic pain such as autism and cerebral palsy. Perhaps one of the most valuable sections in the book are the chapters that address the emotional impact on the child and the parents and how they can help their child to understand why they are not getting better. The appendices contain information on pain center locators, a glossary of key medical terms and sample letters, tracking forms and a suggested reading list.
What Healthcare Providers Can Learn
One of the most important ingredients to tackling the chronic pain challenge is good communication between the healthcare provider, the person living with pain and their family members and caregivers. While this book is referred to a “two pediatricians’ mind-body guide for parents”, healthcare providers can certainly benefit a great deal from reading this book. The insights the writers share from their experiences and the case studies included in the book are invaluable to healthcare providers who want to see the challenges involved through the eyes of the parents.
Pain in Children & Young Adults: The Journey Back to Normal is a must-read for anyone involved in pediatric pain. As a parent, I wish this resource had been available to me when my daughter was younger. As a person who lives with pain, I found the case studies inspiring and uplifting. As someone who works alongside many healthcare providers in the pain world, I think they would gain immensely from this comprehensive resource. Georgia, a teenager living with chronic pain, describes it best.
“My biggest frustration with chronic pain was not understanding what was going on in my own body and not being in charge of my own life. I still have my ups and downs but thanks to Dr. Lonnie Zeltzer and her team, I have my life back.” –Georgia www.teenpainhelp.org