About 2-3 weeks ago I started feeling an odd sensation in the side of my nose when I’d blow it or rub my face. I didn’t really think anything of it. In typical guy fashion I assumed whatever it was it would go away. How wrong I was.
On Monday of last week I found myself in the emergency room with a very intense electical/burning pain that pulsated from my upper right teeth up through the side of my nose and along my cheekbone under my eye. I have honestly never felt pain like that in my life. Needless to say the doctor found absolutely nothing wrong and the pain eventually receded and went away entirely – until the drive home.
Since then I’ve seen a dentist that was entirely useless and said stuff like “Very interesting” and “I’ve been a dentist for 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like this”. She took an xray, charged me $120 and I’ll not be putting her on my Christmas card list. However she was nice enough to refer me to an oral surgeon. I saw him and he confirmed my self diagnosis that it was very likely Trigeminal Neuralgia and there wasn’t anything he could do. He took this way cool 180 degree xray of my entire jaw just to check for absesses or bone damage etc but found nothing wrong at all but he did offer to book an appointment right there to extract my wisdom teeth for only $500. I took a pass and decided he wasn’t as cool as I thought and then he offered me a bottle of Percoset for the pain and I put him on my Christmas card list.
Since then I’ve done a fair bit of research on TN and have decided to pursue chiropractic and acupuncture treatments as opposed to crazy anti-seizure meds or anti-depressants (I’ll just buy more whiskey). The acupuncture is the most promising. I had my first ever treatment on Monday and it was very cool and relaxing. The treatment completely supressed the pain for the duration of the treatment. I’m hopeful that is an indicator that a series of treatments will have a lasting effect.
What triggers the pain you ask? Talking, laughing, eating, brushing my teeth – basically anything that makes my lips move and brush against my teeth and gums on the right upper side of my jaw. If I sit very still and don’t move my face around there’s relatively no pain. The fun part is that every so often I get burst of pain that is far worse then what is now normal pain. This burst is what I think it would feel like if I took bar wires and attached them to my teeth and then plugged it into a wall socket for 2 seconds. Groovy.
I’ll still be in Las Vegas next week for Pubcon and in Chicago for SES. It’s amazing how fast a person can get used to a certain level of pain and block it out. I expect a certain level of acohol intake will be necessary to manage the those weeks though
Here’s the classic definition along with a picture highlighting my affected area of TN from the TN support website:
TN (Trigeminal Neuralgia / tic douloureux) is a disorder of the fifth cranial (trigeminal) nerve that causes episodes of intense, stabbing, electric shock-like pain in the areas of the face where the branches of the nerve are distributed – lips, eyes, nose, scalp, forehead, upper jaw, and lower jaw. By many, it’s called the “suicide disease”. A less common form of the disorder called “Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia” may cause less intense, constant, dull burning or aching pain, sometimes with occasional electric shock-like stabs. Both forms of the disorder most often affect one side of the face, but some patients experience pain at different times on both sides. Onset of symptoms occurs most often after age 50, but cases are known in children and even infants. Something as simple and routine as brushing the teeth, putting on makeup or even a slight breeze can trigger an attack, resulting in sheer agony for the individual. Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is not fatal, but it is universally considered to be the most painful affliction known to medical practice. Initial treatment of TN is usually by means of anti-convulsant drugs, such as Tegretol or Neurontin. Some anti-depressant drugs also have significant pain relieving effects. Should medication be ineffective or if it produces undesirable side effects, neurosurgical procedures are available to relieve pressure on the nerve or to reduce nerve sensitivity. Some patients report having reduced or relieved pain by means of alternative medical therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic adjustment, self-hypnosis or meditation.