There is a new door in my own personal heath game of Let’s Make A Deal! While Door Number One held migraines behind it, and Door Number Two had cluster headaches lurking, this week’s visitor behind Door Number Three is Trigeminal Neuralgia. (Which I originally remembered as Tribal Gemini Neurosis, a mnemonic device I used simply so I could remember enough to find it on the Googles later.)
So, TGN is my new potential havoc wrecking friend, like the frat boy you hate in college movies because he is always smashing things up or annihilating your chances with the sensitive hot cheerleader types. It turns out that TGN manifests a lot like Bruce Lee kicking you in the face. It can be set off by wind blowing on your cheek, turning over to sleep on your favorite side at night, and seemingly anything else under the sun.
I will be reading, walking, shopping, sitting, doing whatever and then BLAMMO! Bruce mothercussing Lee has come out of nowhere and slammed his well trained foot into my tragic left cheek bone. I won’t lie, this makes me cry. Usually I try to laugh pain off, you know, make jokes about gnomes cutting my guts open with teeny little knives but there is no time for joke making when Bruce Lee kicks you in the face. When Bruce Lee kicks you in the face, you cry. Unless you are a cyborg. Then you just disintegrate him with your violent red laser beam eyes.
So what is TGN? Well if you are really interested you can take a look at this fascinating interactive 3-D map of a human brain. If you click on number 12 it will cause what appears to be an alpine brain crampon light up, I think it’s supposed to be a nerve, but it looks more like a glow in the dark hiking crampon to me. It will then switch positions to show you it is actually some sort of space aged light gun, like Han Solo would have carried. (Ok, brain stem and nerve, but don’t tell me you can’t see the laser gun.) Then, once you are done ogling the amazing spaced age brain weaponry, you can navigate around the rest of the site to learn that “Trigeminal Neuralgia is universally acknowledged as one the most painful afflictions known to adults and affects thousands of Americans each year.” So far, after spending half an hour on the website, that is all I have learned about TGN.
If you get past the panic inducing fact that apparently you may have just won the pain lottery you can read on to discover that the guy behind this website has resolved it in 5000 patients (It doesn’t mention how many patients he has had, so I don’t know what that means from a chances regarding my recovery standpoint) and that he does so by endoscopic vascular decompression.
… That sounds complicated and wordy? I wonder what he means?…
Apparently the treatment for TGN is to make a small dime sized whole behind the ear, then a 2.7-millimeter endoscope is inserted into the head. The cranial nerves and vessels are identified and all things going wrong with it are repaired, slowly without butchering the brain. The dura is closed, the bone piece is repositioned and the 3-centimeter incision is re-approximated. In fact, if you want to see the animations or the videos, go ahead! I know they had me screaming silently inside my pounding head for a while.
Now, if only one of the several docs I am trying to work with would let me know I definitely don’t need to have my head opened in any way because I have something else entirely, that would be great. Until then, I will be over in this corner here, holding my knees, rocking back and forth, and eating too many M&M’s.