What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?
This is for all my fans who might be suffering from the this affliction.
Is it a toothache? Feels like it at first. Is it lightning like pain up the side of your face? Definitely. Does it stop you in your tracks and you can’t move? Very much, yes. Do you feel like you’ll never be normal again, without pain? Yes.
Trigeminal Neuralgia or TN, for me, was an awakening to pain, pain in which nothing helped and very few people knew what to do. We are told to take control of our health care but, if you don’t know what you have and the doctors flail around with different types of medicines, how can you take control?
TN was a sudden electric-like jolt up the side of the face that was debilitating. I would stop dead in my tracks and could not move because, if I did, the pain would last longer or get worse, if that were possible. It felt like someone had hit me with a two by four in the face. Not good. Horrible, actually.. These electrical shocks lasted anywhere between five seconds to several minutes.
By the time it was apparent that something was wrong and the time that I corrected this defect, one year had passed. The pain started as a sharp pain that ran from my next to the last tooth and traveled to my head. I thought I had a really bad toothache. However, I had been lucky in my life and had never had a cavity, so I had no idea what a toothache was like. I went to the dentist and had X-rays. Nothing. But the pain continued.
I would walk outside in the fall or winter and, whenever a breeze blew against my face, it would set off the pain. It was hard to brush my teeth without the pain occurring. With most pain, you can massage the place and make it better. With this pain, massaging was out of the question unless you wanted to hit the roof with more intense pain.
Several months later, I was stooping while I was helping to build a garage and I felt so much pain shoot from that tooth to my head around the temple. I couldn’t move. I can only surmise that my blood pressure rose and intensified the pain. I went to a dentist again, who ground on my teeth. Did it work? N-o-o-o!!!
I was new to the area, but I found a woman doctor who would see me and she quickly diagnosed the problem and sent me to a neurologist. The neurologist gave me several kinds of medication. Each one worked for a short while, but then the pain was back. I don’t know what’s wrong with men doctors but, for some reason, they don’t want to listen to female patients. Finally, my husband went with me and we both asked if something else existed. Only then was the option of surgery presented.
The two options open to me were Gamma Knife radiosurgery and Microvascular Decompression Surgery. With the Gamma Knife, I would not be assured of the pain not coming back in five or so years. Also, if it did come back when I was older, I may not be able to go through the more invasive surgery. I opted for the Microsvascular Decompression Surgery. Was I scared? Betcha.
The surgery consisted of cutting a half dollar sized hole in my skull behind my left ear and putting a Teflon pad between the nerve and the blood vessel which pounded on it. Then the hole was covered over with a titanium plate. I spent several days in the hospital and it took about a month to recover. My face was numb for about a year and once in a while it will feel a little numb. I can live with that. The pain, I couldn’t. It has been four years since I had the operation and I am glad I had it done. I hope it doesn’t come back.