Jolene Philo's first child, Allen, was born with a life-threatening birth defect that required 7 surgeries from birth to age 5. The first occurred when he was 12 hours old, landing him in the NICU for 3 weeks. As literally hundreds of medical tests and procedures were performed on her son, Jolene was told, "Don't worry - babies don't feel any pain" and "he'll never remember these surgeries and hospital visits when he's older."
But in adolescence, Allen seemed to become two different kids. At times, Allen was "the curious, talented, happy son he'd been when he was younger," Philo reported. "But at other times, he became a secretive, self-destructive teenager who sometimes just 'ran away.'" Because Allen remained highly successful in school, teachers, counselors and therapists brushed aside the Philos' concerns.
The pattern of running away continued until Allen was 26, and he asked his parents for help. Within a week of meeting with counselors and therapists at a cutting-edge outpatient clinic in Morgantown, WV, Allen was diagnosed with PTSD. Although he had not realized what was causing his self-destructive behavior, he told his mother, "For the first time in my life, I'm not looking over my shoulder, waiting for them to take me back to surgery."