The Suicide Disease

It’s been a while. I kept telling myself that I would pick this blog back up, dust it off, and move forward. But where do you go when a thing goes from light-hearted and silly to deep and depressing and grieving? Silly just doesn’t seem right.

From my father’s struggles, I think I’ll now move on to my own. It seems like the place to be, and maybe I can help someone else out along the way and find my voice again.

I have recently been diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia. Never heard of it? Yea, neither had I.

TN is an issue with the trigeminal (get it?) nerve in your face. For reasons no one is quite sure of, my face hates me. The feeling is mutual these days.

TN manifests itself differently for everyone. For me, it started as a sharp pain on my lower right side of my face when I was eating, like taking a bite and then getting stabbed in the face, sometimes with the added bonus of my right arm getting weak. This went on for months and I just stopped chewing on my right side.

Then it became multiple stabs so that it seemed to be a constant pain. I thought this must be my TMJ coming back. It was always in the afternoon and would last for hours, despite taking anything.

But I’m a bad adult and continued to shrug it off until the night that it was so bad that I was dizzy and my vision blurred and went white, and that was enough to send me to the emergency room to figure out what was causing this. Trust me, all the worst things were going through my mind – in addition to the constant knives.

A night ill-spent in the hospital and several tests later, I was given a depressing diagnosis and told to see a neurologist.

The thing about TN is that it doesn’t show up on CT scans or MRI, there’s no EEG that can determine if you have it, the basically determine that you don’t have anything else, but you have wicked pains in  your face that don’t respond to pain killers. Then they give you anticonvulsants.

And those were magic pills. For a couple of weeks and then the pain was back with a vengeance and it is the most disheartening thing about being told you have a chronic pain condition. I have spent hours crying over the electrified knives being shoved in to my face and an inability to sleep. I understand why it’s called the Suicide Disease, because when your own face is your worst enemy and the act of eating is torture and don’t get me started on brushing your teeth, staying positive is hard.

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