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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More than just a headache

I've had migraines for about 24 years. I've had tension headaches. I've had "spinal" headaches from getting injections directly into my spine. I've had headaches caused by the whiplash, which was caused by the car accident.

But I've never had headaches like the ones I've been suffering from lately.

About a month ago, I started having pain on the right side of my face. It started out along the upper jaw, then wound its way down through my mandibular joint and across my lower jaw. It took over my ear and I could feel it like an ice pick deep inside my ear canal. The pain, which I can only describe as the most excruciating pain I've felt thus far, traveled up the side of my face, through my temple, and into my skull.

This all happened really fast and has been ongoing, never ceasing, for a whole month. Sometimes the pain isn't as intense and horrendous; and other times, like last Thursday, I end up with my head in my hands screaming about how it's killing me. Literally killing me. I thought the aneurysm was going to pop and that was going to be the end of me. I was just screaming, waiting, and praying for the end to come quickly.

Now, I don't know if I really have an aneurysm. The idea of one has always scared me. I don't know if it's a brain tumor. I don't know if there is any cause at all to the horrifying pain I've been experiencing. I've had a CT scan, but my doctor is currently "out" so I've requested a copy of the results so I can find out without having to wait for her.

Right now, it is just being referred to as Trigeminal Neuralgia. Trigeminal Neuralgia is pain in the Trigeminal nerve, which comes down from your skull, through your temple, and branches off into three areas of the face: the eye, the upper jaw, and the lower jaw. I have done some research (as I normally do) and found a picture of the face and where the Trigeminal nerve is located. It didn't surprise me that the nerve is located in the exact areas in which I am having pain. In fact, it seems that my entire right-side Trigiminal nerve is affected.

The Trigeminal nerve is represented as yellow in this picture.

I read somewhere (and I promise to post a link as soon as I find where I bookmarked it) that, while TN is rare, it is not so uncommon in people who suffer from Fibromyalgia. That's way too many algias, if you ask me. The Facial Pain Association states, "Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is not fatal, but it is universally considered to be the most painful affliction known to medical practice.  By many, it's called the "suicide disease."

Having experienced this pain for the past month, I believe that statement wholeheartedly.

If you start experiencing this facial and head pain, please see your doctor immediately. While it is thought to be caused by an expanding blood vessel pressing against the nerve, the true cause remains unknown. It is best to have a CT scan or MRI to rule out aneurysms or tumors or something else entirely. There is a lot of information on the Internet regarding Trigeminal Neuralgia and myofacial pain. Read up, print out, and take that information to your doctor.

I will keep you all informed on my results and how this all plays out.

Gentle hugs,

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