The Monster in My Face: What the Pain of Trigeminal Neuralgia Feels Like
I am a big-time lover of everything scary. Scary movies, haunted houses, going to get the mail in my PJs, you know…scary. I still remember watching scary movies with my best friend Rachel when we were little girls. We would huddle up together in one chair, our eyes closed through most of the movie and our arms latched together.
Several years ago I sat watching a scary movie with my spouse and a thought came into my mind. If you are a horror movie fan, perhaps you have wondered the same at some point. There was a scene in the movie that was so horrible I had to turn away. One of the characters in the movie was being tortured. They were screaming and thrashing and eventually they passed out from the severe pain they were enduring. As I watched this movie, I couldn’t help but wonder, what would that kind of pain feel like?
I of course would never want to experience such pain as being tortured, but couldn’t help to wonder what is the worst pain a person can feel? I had worked in emergency medicine for years and had seen people in severe pain, but still I wondered how severe pain could really become. This was just a fleeting thought as I watched the movie. What I didn’t know at that moment was that one day, I would get to find out.
Up until that point in my life, I had already struggled with my own moments of severe pain. I have several chronic illnesses and have experienced horrible pain from them, as well as the countless procedures I have endured. Pain was not something I was new to by any means.
It was about two and a half years ago when I was first introduced to the monster in my face. I was asleep when suddenly I woke to the most extreme pain to the side of my head. I sat up in bed and thought, “What is happening?” The pain was like nothing I had ever felt before. It went from my left ear down into my mouth and teeth and back up through the top of my face on the left side. It was a constant pain I would describe as burning, electric, throbbing and sharp. You can think about the worst headache you have ever had and multiple that pain by a million. It almost felt as though someone was using a taser on my face over and over while stabbing me with a hot poker. It was absolutely excruciatingly and it wasn’t stopping.