A Pain That Cannot Be Communicated!

I remember a little girl looking up at her mum with sad eyes and saying, “Mummy, I have a headache in my tummy” her hands hugging her belly in pain.

She didn’t have the words or knowledge to express her pain, so she did it in the only way she knew how.

Fifteen years ago, I lay curled up on a hospital bed in pain, a doctor came up to me and asked me my symptoms. Looking up at him through the slits in my eyes, I mumbled, “I don’t know.” The pain was so great that it emanated throughout my body disguising its source.

Illness comes in many forms and even when you have the ability to express verbally what is wrong, we often cannot find the words or process the detail to do so.

And that’s for those of us who can talk.

So when I picked up Rhys from school this morning, the absence of language and knowledge to express his pain, was only presented with tears and the words, “Sad”.

Rhys is either happy or sad.

Just one or the other. He doesn’t kmow any level in-between.

So I become a detective and look for the non-verbal signs. A feel of his forehead to check for temperature, a look at the colour in his face, the sound of a cough or a sniffle, and the alertness of his character.

There is no temperature, no cough, no sniffles. But he holds his ears and cries, with the words “sad” verbalised between breathes.

He wont eat except for soft food like his white bread sandwich – his crackers and orange remaining untouched.

When we get home, he perks up. The quiet atmosphere is a blessing to his torment. But a flash of the calpol syringe sets him off again. The request to bring something to his mouth brings distress.

I think I have identified the culprit of his pain. His teeth. The new big boy teeth pushing through his tender gums.

But I have been wrong before. I can only guess. I can only make sense of what I see. Because my little boy cannot tell me.

So we will play it safe. Give him another day’s rest and fingers crossed he is ok.

This is where things are tough. Tough for both sides, the struggle to communicate, and the challenge to help.

Forty-eight more hours of cuddles is all I have to offer…

… and sneaky calpol in his squash.

Get well soon little buddy.


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