October 16th, 2023:
The world is still cloaked in darkness at 5 am when Dennis nudges me awake. It’s an ungodly hour, but there’s a mission at hand – a pre-dawn pilgrimage to the UAB Highlands Pain Clinic in Birmingham, AL. The reason for this early awakening? It’s Trigeminal Neuralgia Pain Block Day!
By 7 am, I’m in the capable hands of the ever-sweet Janice, who skillfully inserts the IV, prepping me for the journey ahead. The anesthesiologist drops by to delve into my medical history and review the procedure that awaits. Then, he wields his marker like a modern-day artist, sketching on my neck to ensure the correct side for surgery. The “happy meds” follow, and I’m lovingly referred to as “sister” by the kind-hearted tech, Rod, and dubbed “my favorite TikTok star” by the nurse, Ms. Leesa. And all of this happens before they even get a taste of the homemade chocolate chip cookies I brought along.
My daddy, God rest his soul, taught me a thing or two about life. He said to always snag the first appointment, carry homemade cookies or brownies, and add a secret ingredient: love. So, in tribute to his wisdom, that’s exactly what I did. I think I’ve made him proud today.
There’s a comforting feeling in having a family member on staff wherever you go, and I’ve got one who absolutely rocks! Daddy would beam with pride if he could see Coe today. I’ve thanked her a thousand times this past week, and it still wouldn’t be enough. Having my “sisser” by my side during this bewildering journey is a gift I treasure. We’re living life to the fullest, no matter the circumstances.
Post-procedure, I return home and surrender to the sedation medication. Naps come and go, and for the first time in ages, I find solace in a profound, uninterrupted slumber. It’s a cool and overcast day, the perfect setting to snuggle in, let the pain meds weave their magic, and heal.
My orders are clear – rest and steer clear of heat or submerging the incision area for the next 24 hours. Got it!
Optimism fills the air. I believe this procedure will complement my medication regimen and chiropractic adjustments. With determination as my ally, I declare that I have too much life to live, and I will fight Trigeminal Neuralgia with unwavering resolve.
While there might not be a cure or immediate answers to my countless questions, TN has met its match in a Reynolds – a family of fighters, though not the bar-fighting kind. I’ve got a best friend (Terri) and a cousin-friend (Staci) who are seasoned researchers, and they’ve got my back with solutions to explore. My sister, Coe Cargile, is the rock when it comes to medical queries and support. My husband and family epitomize patience, kindness, and unwavering support. And I’m fortunate to have a few comedians in my corner, turning the darkest of moments into moments of laughter.
Then there’s the army of friends, rallying behind me with encouraging words and steadfast support. It’s an outpouring of love and care that I cherish beyond measure.
Right now, I’m on a quest to find a cure, to discover relief, and to live life to the absolute fullest, no matter what. I’ll explore every holistic avenue and embrace Western medicine. You see, until you’ve endured a TN episode, it’s tough to say what you would or wouldn’t do. But I can, and I will.
Parts of me may want to scream, some want to fight, but most of me just yearns to live. To do the things I love, as I did prior to October 10th, 2023. And if that means taking a pause, focusing on deep breaths and the things I cherish until an episode passes, so be it.
It’s been a mere seven days since my diagnosis, and I’m ready to share the hand I’ve been dealt during this season of life. I’m Trigeminal Neuralgia aware, and now, so are you.
I don’t intend to stop exploring and adventuring in this beautiful world. If anything, I’ll use it to savor and reflect on life even more, even when episodes strike. I’m not abstaining; I’m embracing it, every moment, every experience. Because life is a precious gift, no matter the challenges.