Q: I am now 17 years old. Since I was 14 years old, I have been getting a pain in my lower right chest. I still go to the pediatrician. At every check-up, I have asked him about it.
He has told me that it is related to food, but he has given me no advice to change my diet in any way and he has not done any tests. I have noticed that the pain does occur shortly after eating, but I do not know what type of food. I do not eat fast food, meat or very much junk food.
One of my parents has a gallbladder disorder and a family history of it, but my other parent has no relatives with such a health problem. Other than that, neither of my parents has a family history of any serious diseases. I do not think that anything is wrong with my gall bladder because only one parent has a family history. I have read medical books but nothing in them fits the description. What should I do now?
A: You sound dissatisfied with your pediatrician's explanation of the pain. Maybe you're worrying that there is something seriously wrong with you or are wishing there was a way to make the pain go away. I'd suggest letting your pediatrician know that you still worry about the pain, wonder if you need any tests and would like to know if you can make any dietary changes to relieve it.
It's important for you to ask why tests are not being done and to get answers that satisfy you. Sometimes pain can be triggered by emotional causes and it would be useful to ask your pediatrician if this is a possibility and how you could get help.
Q: I am a 13-year-old girl and lately every Sunday or every night before I have to go back to school, I suffer from insomnia. My family and friends tell me to relax and think happy thoughts but it never seems to work.
I usually fall asleep around 2 or 3 in the morning, but then I have to get up at 6:40. Do you have any suggestions that will help me?
A: Sometimes children and teen-agers have worries about school or worries about leaving home that keep them awake. This is especially common if one of the parents is ill or depressed, as the child will worry about the parent being alone. Or, sometimes the child can be nervous about events in school and want to avoid them. Often parents of these children have had similar problems and are unsure how to help.
I'd suggest that you see a therapist who can help you figure out why you can't sleep; it's pretty hard to relax when you don't even know what is troubling you. Also, have your pediatrician make sure that there's no physical problem causing the insomnia.
Q: I am 9 years old and I have a sister who is 6. Whenever I do something that upsets her, she will attack me. Once she dug her nails so far into my arm, I almost began to cry. I don't know what to do.
A: One thing you can do is to try not to tease her or aggravate her on purpose. Since she is three years younger than you, she may hate it when you say things to make her feel stupid or little. She may then feel her only way to stop you is to hurt you.
However, you may not always mean to upset her and she needs to learn better ways of reacting to you. I'd suggest asking your parents for help in controlling her when she starts to attack you. They could also acknowledge how both of you feel but help her learn other ways to react.
Dr. Sokal is a child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist practicing in Baltimore. If you have a question, send it to Dear Kids, Features Department, The Sun, Baltimore, Md. 21278.