A Date with Destiny: My Trigeminal Neuralgia Diagnosis

October 10th, 2023

In the world of healthcare, I’m quite confident that my recent visit to Dr. David Wilhelm earned me a spot in his “Top 10 Most Bizarre Patient Ailments” list. Allow me to paint you a quick picture: a pain so severe it’s like having a simultaneous toothache, migraine, and earache, all conspiring to make my life a living nightmare. Yes, you guessed it, it was excruciating and downright debilitating.

Dr. Wilhelm, however, was the epitome of professionalism and compassion. No awkward laughter, just pure information. In a matter of minutes, he had me in the hot seat for some x-rays. It was a swift diagnosis – Trigeminal Neuralgia, an exceptionally rare nerve condition. To the rescue came my newfound sidekick, GABAPENTIN 300 MG (2/day). Dr. Wilhelm also promised to connect me with a specialist who could guide me through this uncharted territory.

Before I could even wrap my head around this “Toothache-Migraine-Earache Extravaganza,” I had already fired up Google to learn about this alien condition. Spoiler alert: it’s a complex beast. A quick text to my sister, our family’s designated nurse, was in order. She had to know what was brewing.

And, whoosh, within half an hour, Dr. Christopher A. Paul from UAB Highlands Pain Clinic had his finger on the pulse of my situation. It probably helped that I’m “Coe’s sister.” He wanted every gritty detail and an appointment scheduled, ASAP.

Later that day, while seeking solace from my sister and a little relief from this relentless torment, it happened. A bad TN episode. The floodgates opened, and I cried like a baby. I had this notion that I needed to be tough as nails, to not let fear or anxiety show, to avoid any pity. After all, I didn’t want Dennis to turn into a full-time doting nurse. My head was a whirlwind of questions, a rush of research, and a determination to fight this menacing “Suicide Disease.”

While diving into my newfound expertise on Trigeminal Neuralgia, I stumbled upon a revelation – National Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day. It had been on Saturday, October 7th, 2023, just three days before my diagnosis. Who could’ve guessed that on that special day, I would be experiencing some of my most agonizing moments, all unaware of the storm that was about to befall me? Their logo, by the way, features butterflies and cool colors. A touch of nature in the face of such a daunting condition.

Now, let’s get down to the facts:

  • Trigeminal Neuralgia takes aim at the trigeminal nerve, a messenger of sensations from the face to the brain. It’s one nerve, but it comes in three flavors (V1 above the eye, V2 under the eye, and V3 along the jawline). Most of the time, it’s a one-sided show.
  • The pain it brings is sharp, stabbing, and transient, lasting mere seconds or minutes.
  • The trigger list is quite bizarre, featuring everyday activities like chewing, talking, or even the humble tooth-brushing.
  • It’s more of a women’s club, with ladies being the primary members, typically over the age of 50. I’ve had 53 journey’s around the sun!

There you have it, the short and sweet version of my introduction to the world of Trigeminal Neuralgia. Stay tuned, because this journey is just beginning.

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