Adolescence can bring some bumps in the road. But 15-year-old Faith Dawson hit a brick wall, in the form of chronic pain. It affected her all through her body and lasted for months.
"At it's worst I just wanted to curl up and cry honestly," said Dawson.
"So she's feeling this horrendous amount of pain, for no reason," said Catherine Dawson, Faith's mother.
Doctors finally determined Faith's pain was linked to anxiety and to lack of exercise. The causes of pain can be confusing to pinpoint, but the symptoms are real said Seattle Children's Research Institute Dr. Tonya Palermo. Dr. Palermo is also a Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at the University of Washington.
"...chronic musculoskeletal pain, chronic headache, chronic abdominal pain. And those are really the most common types of pain in childhood," said Palermo.
Faith needed daily physical therapy. Her mother had to balance Faith's care with needs of all three of her children. It seemed overwhelming.
"Balancing can be difficult for families and they can struggle with experiencing higher levels of stress, more worries, as well as more arguments and conflict in the family," said Palermo.
Palermo and colleagues have been researching a specific intervention, problem-solving therapy, developed not for young patients, but for their parents. It is designed to cut through the stress. Catherine Dawson and her family have now benefitted from the therapy.
"You have to be optimistic for it to even work," said Dawson.
Problem-solving therapy helped the Dawsons work through issues, step by step, that caused the most tension in the family. Catherine Dawson gave an example of working out a particular problem in the workbook in the weekly therapy. At the time all three of her daughters shared a bedroom. That created tension as Faith needed more rest.
"I think I put down there, I'd like an easier bedtime," she said.
The next step was to rank the top answers to the problem. The whole family had a voice.
"The final solution was, someone was going to move in with me," Dawson said.
It was just one answer the family found to cut down on stress, helping Catherine Dawson,and helping Faith get her pain under control.
I'm happy with where I am in life and everything's finally putting itself back together," said Faith.