Many moons ago I realized that my youngest child, my son, does not feel most pain. For several years it seemed that he only felt pain in his gut or face. He would bang his head for fun or because he was upset and cause huge welts. We eventually had to put blankets or pillows everywhere and sometimes restrain him because he did not feel the pain which is the warning sign in typical people that tells them to stop a behavior that can cause damage.
Fast forward a bit. We have been through horrible behavior issues, sleeplessness, selective mutism at times, sensory processing disorder, hours of screaming for no apparent reason, self harm, doctors whose only advice was to change diet or get a helmet, and more. Eventually we gave up on any doctor listening or helping and settled into modeling proper choices, talking a lot, using patience, etc. Some of the issues got better a little bit at a time. Some did not.
Fast forward a bit more. My son went through a very violent and confusing time last fall. He began hurting others even though his self harm was lessening. He became less talkative and gave less clues to indicate what his triggers were. I was at a loss. I considered autism testing. Before going that route, I decided to double check that we had done everything else possible to be sure his environment was not, in part or as a whole, causing the new issues.
We chose a highly recommended naturopathic doctor who went to medical school before choosing naturopathy as a specialty. She was very understanding of my concerns and patient with my son's behavior in the office. (He was a mix of hyper and calm depending on the moment. It was a mess! He was beside himself.) The ND asked me to consider fecal tests because they are non-invasive and have a somewhat inexpensive out of pocket cost. When the results came back we found several signs of damage to his intestines and other organs which affect gut health which in turn may affects mood, pain versus no pain, and behavior.
I am thankful that we now have a nutritionally sound treatment plan to help my son, but there is something that still bothers me. A few nights ago, he woke up screaming. I took him to the bathroom to use the toilet. He used it, but then screamed for a half hour while grabbing his abdomen. At that moment I realized that his gut pain and face pain may have been extreme pain. He is probably not more sensitive in the abdomen and face, but had extreme pain there more often than in other body parts. I then thought back to a few weeks before when he fell at the park and needed stitches on his forehead. He cried because of the blood, he told me, not the pain. He didn't feel the pain according to his account of the situation. When my middle child hit her head and needed a staple, she was sensitive at the wound site for months. My son did not worry one bit with the stitches or the site of the stitches. He said they did not hurt and now that they are mostly healed he still doesn't worry with them. (He did not like the bandage being changed because it pulled his skin a bit, though.) All of this leads me to believe that he is not overly sensitive in his face and abdomen, but was feeling extreme pain in those places when he had behavior issues as a young child.
The good news is that with continued vigilance with regard to his diet, SPD, and allergens plus the medicines his ND suggested, he is on the mend and has fewer rough days or times. The bad news is that we waited a lot longer than necessary to heal his body because we thought his issues were mostly neurological and focused on the SPD, not mostly diet based and neurological. Truth be told, he still has a great many issues with social and emotional behaviors, but with the changes we made he is able to focus more on his choices and either deal with or avoid his triggers. At this time he is working his way back from the regression last fall. Sure, there may be further testing down the road, but at least we have a better idea of where to begin this time around.
There are several morals to the story. Always question, always looks for more information, and always double check. Shed that mommy guilt because we do what we can when we can. We do better when we see a better way.