Back in September of 2010 on a nice relaxing Saturday evening I had an episode of extreme facial pain. What do I mean? I've never been shot, nor struck by lightening. So I'm just guessing with this reference but I had pains on the left side of my face that felt like I was being shot or hit by lightening. The pain would come on and last anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes. Lets say each second felt like several hours. I endured this pain over night. I still don't know quite how I survived without going to the hospital but my theory is I kept passing out from the pain. Everyone else in the house was sleeping quietly and I didn't want to wake them so I spent the night on the sofa in the living room suffering in solitude.
The next morning the pain had eased a bit but I was completely spent. I had never felt so utterly exhausted and completely drained as I did the next morning. Thank goodness my husband is the type of person he is and he sent me straight to bed. I slept fitfully for most of the day with little moments of pain but not like the previous night. Sunday evening I agreed to go to the hospital by taxi after the girls had gone to bed. I needed something to ensure that I would get through the night without pain and actually sleep.
By the time the doctor saw me I was willing to try ANYTHING to feel better. I explained my history of low grade pain on the same side of my face and how it started the October of 2008. Yes, I remember the first time I had any such pain and even then it was nothing compared to the episode which took me to see the doctor that evening. I wasn't overly confident in the young interne's diagnosis but I took the pain meds and prescription he offered in good faith. They called a taxi for me, said to see my own doctor as soon as possible to get a confirmed diagnosis and sent me on my way home again.
By the time I got home I was so incredibly out of things that I almost didn't pay the cab driver. I went into the house, gave my husband instruction to go get the prescription filled and went promptly to bed and slept.... ahhh.... it was an uninterrupted, medicated sleep but I slept pain free.
The next day I started looking up "Trigeminal Neuralgia" - the diagnosis the doctor at the hospital gave me the night before. I didn't like the sound of this new 'thing' that I was being labelled with having. If you want to read up on it go ahead the reading is quite interesting but just let me say life long agony did not sound at all appealing. The physical pain along with the mental stress of the illness was not something that I wanted to have to cope with for the rest of my life! I'm still young! This ailment only happens to old people.... well not really but that was how I was reasoning that the diagnosis was incorrect.
The prescription for carbamazapine helped immediately though... damn. It knocked me on my keester but it took the symptoms away and let me sleep.
It just happened that my mom and her partner were visiting for a few days starting that Monday and man was that a lucky thing. I could not function on this medication. I slept for 20 hours a day for the next 2 days. The Wednesday I decided to try to get out and be a human being again.... My mom and I took the kids to their play group and I drove. in retrospect that was a BIG mistake. No way was I in any shape to drive that car - let alone with children in it. But my mom didn't want me to feel like she was trying to take over or tell me there was anything wrong.... um maybe someone should have said something. BUT I behaved the next few days - sort of. I no longer drove unless I was the only one in the car. Still not responsible but what's done is done. I was really happy to have the support of my mom and her partner as well as my hubby while all of this was going on but I knew it couldn't last. I went off the medication after that week. I just couldn't be a zombie with a family to care for and a life to live.
That following Friday I saw an M.D. at my own clinic and we discussed what had happened and he said that if the medication was working then to stay on it (and sleep the days away??? was what I was thinking) until I got to see a couple of different doctors to rule out other problems.
What else could it be? well it could be dental, sinuses etc, etc. To make an even longer story short it wasn't any of those things.
Since October I have had nearly weekly episodes of low grade face pain on the left side of my face. Just a couple of months ago it started on the right side too. I get these creepy crawling feeling up the scalp too. Classic nerve issues. I finally broke down and talked to my M.D. about it and she said to try another kind of medication.... so here I am at the reason for my writing this long blog post. I'm going to try something new and see if I can get the face pain under control.
There are some kinds of pain that I can handle with a little help from medications that dull the pain. I've had chronic back pain since I was 12 when I herniated my first disk. I've dealt with migraines most of my teens and adult life (until I had my first child and then they went away - for the most part). And various other temporary aches and pains. But let me tell you there is nothing quite like feeling like your face is about to blow up. Even the low grade pain in my jaw, teeth, and cheeks is pushing me over the edge. The waiting game is enough to drive one bonkers too. Every time I get a twinge I wonder if its going to be a repeat of what happened in September. Luckily, so far its not been too bad. THIS is why I finally got a new medication to try.
So tonight at bed time I embark on a new trial with amitriptyline. I'll be tracking what's happening here in part because other people who might suffer from the same issues may take comfort, as I have, from knowing they're not alone. The best part is - I don't look sick. So no matter how much I'm suffering people won't necessarily know it. Which is a double edged sword. Let's hope this medication works and doesn't knock me on my butt for a week. Especially since I have 2 beautiful daughters to look after while their dad is in Amsterdam on business.
Oh ya and for those who have been following the dramas of foster parenting - that's on the back burner. No more babies here. It was just too stressful and tiring on top of everything else.