Acupuncture as an Adjunct Treatment for Trigeminal Neuralgia


Since being diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, it went from bad to worse.  Even with the maximum dosage of Pregabalin and a thrice-a-day dose of Tegretol, the pain in my face was an almost constant 8-9 out of 10.  I like the following pain scale, because it also shows my mental state.

15 Pain Scales (And How To Find The Best One For You) |

Not only was I reeling from the Tegretol, but I was almost incapacitated with facial pain, which somehow is so much worse than pain in something further away.  I was taking huge quantities of medications designed to control this pain and it just wasn’t working.

So I put all my hopes on a blood vessel touching my trigeminal nerve somewhere so they could perform microvascular decompression, which is this really cool brain surgery where they stick a little sponge between the blood vessel and the trigeminal nerve and voila, around about 7 years of no pain!

The MRI showed up nothing.  Everything was fine.  Nothing was even vaguely touching the trigeminal nerve.  There was no explanation for why I had trigeminal neuralgia.

I had a complete meltdown.  I was really banking on the MRI showing something, and it didn’t.

The next day I booked in for acupuncture.  I have now had three acupuncture sessions, and I’m just about to go to my fourth.

After the first acupuncture session my pain went down to a 2-3.  I stopped taking my midday Tegretol, so I was down to twice-a-day Tegretol.  After my second acupuncture session, my pain went down to a 1-2.  I was moving that week, so every once in a while I would have a flare up to a 7.  The CBD Living Freeze (they don’t pay me for this shout out) has been a godsend for these flareups.  I roll it all over my face, fan the eucalyptus and menthol fumes away from my eyeballs (it buuuuuurns), and my face feels normal again!

I have a mild worming pain across my zygomatic arch right now, and a bit of a bone eating sensation in my jaw, but the consistent pain rarely gets above a 3.  As I said before, I am just about to go to my fourth acupuncture session, and once my nerves have settled down from that I shall drop my Tegretol down to once a day.

My goal is to completely come off Tegretol and regain my brain and my waistline!

There Is Nothing Wrong With Me (Except There Is)


I went in last week for a private MRI.  It was a surprisingly relaxing experience – I spent my time cataloguing what all of the noises sounded like.  Most of them sounded like a really broken hard drive trying to work.  Some noises were like overbalanced washing machines.  Some sounded like the old 90s printers going nuts printing.

I got the report from my MRI today.  Everything is normal.  The brain is normal.  The nerve is normal.  There are no impingements, demyelination, nothing.  There is no physical reason for my trigeminal nerve to be permanently signalling pain.

I am devastated.  In a few days I’ll be relieved it wasn’t other things (like multiple sclerosis or a tumour), but for now I am distraught at the fact that they can’t fix this.  There is no cure.  They can’t make this pain go away.

This is my life.  Having a jaw that feels it’s being eaten away, a temple that aches and burns, a nose that feels like ice, and a brow and forehead that throbs.

Today I will be sad.  Tomorrow I will be angry and I will not let this be my life, come hell or high water.  But today I will be sad and accept where I am, which is in a lot of pain with no physical evidence to show for it.

This Is My Life Currently

christopher-windus-ys_PVhkEC6c-unsplashThe alarm goes off.  I groan, hit snooze, and roll over to steal some warmth from my amazing human who also doubles as a walking space heater.  The snooze alarm goes off and I whinge some more and convince myself I’m only going in for a little cuddle.  Several minutes later I get a nudge awake and I roll myself out of bed.  I stand up.

And promptly tilt over into the dresser.

That’s fine, there’s only a few centimetres between where I stand and the dresser, I’m not hurt in the least.  I stand myself back upright and lean on the bed as I grab my pants, put them on carefully one leg at a time (I’m also deeply inflexible first thing in the morning, so this is sometimes quite difficult), put my jumper and slippers on, and totter out.

My right eye is just a blur, like I’m not wearing my glasses.  My left eye works fine.

I stumble and list several more times on my way to the kitchen, but I manage to catch myself each time, usually with my feet, sometimes with my hands on a wall.  The cats yell at me to feed them.  Kettle goes on first, dog loses her shit because I’m up and that means breakfast, and the cats continue to yell at me.  They all have me whipped.

I continue to teeter my way around the house, feeding the various beasts, making my coffee, my amazing human’s coffee, my breakfast, until at last I can sit down and not expend additional energy catching myself as I start to tip sideways.  I subconsciously plan my routes to ensure I have either something structurally sound I can catch myself on, or something soft I can fall on, as much as possible.  I’m glad my floofy creature (cat, she rules our lives, and she knows it and loves it) is more interested in floofing in front of me – tail up and elegantly tipped to one side, glancing over her shoulder as she chirrups to make sure I’m following her – rather than doing a surprise floof directly in front of / under / between my feet as I’m walking.

By the time I’m seated with my breakfast and coffee my right eye is back to normal, if feeling uncomfortable (I’ve been to the optometrist who says it’s all beautiful and fine), and I spend my mornings relaxing and waiting for my body to stabilise a bit more.

Throughout all of this my jaw burns.  Well, not so much burns, as feels like it’s being eaten away.  It’s a diffuse ache with no distinct boundaries but a tapering off around a central pain.  Sometimes it’ll crawl down my mandible and into my chin.  Sometimes I’ll have flashes of sharp pain across the roots of my maxillary teeth.  More often than not I’ll have a frozen burning patch along the side of my nose.

I’ll browse through Facebook on my laptop.  My fingers will lightly spasm as I go through, so I have to make sure the mouse is off to the side of the screen so I don’t accidentally click on something.

After a little while I’ll get up, wind my way to a shower, and get on with my day.  I will have difficulty recalling things I did moments ago.  I will stumble over words.  My brain will supply me with an alternate word for the one I’m wanting, and I will have to logically work my way through an number of other words before I get to the correct one.  I will sometimes have intention tremors.

If I’m lucky, the wobbliness will be done by 10am.  Other times it lasts all day, and I will have to rely on my cane for balance.

I don’t know how much of this is the Tegretol or if this is an increasing severity of whatever is causing my trigeminal neuralgia.  Hopefully I will find out soon!

Getting Outside Is Good For The Soul


I have spent the day at a country manor, helping out with some very (very) basic farm things, such as finding the pigs and getting them back into their pen, and bringing the older cows in for drenching.

I even drove the two aside farm vehicle thing.  That was awesome.

Even through the drizzle and the cold, there was constant bird song.  The hills rolled on and on until they met the mountains.  You could see the valley wherein a dairy farm nestled.  And it was beautiful and so restful.

This morning I sat on the front deck while my dog zoomed around the landscaped front yard and I cried.  It wasn’t a sad cry, but rather that cry you get when you unclench and let everything you’ve held dissipate.  It took me some time to finish.  When I did, I felt renewed, and my chest felt light.

It just reminded me that I need to get out into farmland more often.  Not into bush – while I like it, it’s not where I feel most relaxed, but rather into the rolling green hills akin to England’s own.  Into lifestyle blocks and retiree blocks where there aren’t many animals, and they just need a bit of mustering because they’re so used to their humans and will follow them anywhere.

While I know it is only a transient feeling, I feel more settled than I have in a long time.

I Have Bilateral Trigeminal Neuralgia


In my right jaw, at all times, I have deep burning ache of bone being eaten away.  It isn’t, but that’s what it feels like.  I have an ache along my brow ridge.  The area around my temples incredibly sensitive, and makes putting on my glasses hazardous.

Sometimes it feels like a tooth is being pulled with limited analgesia.  On bad days, my zygomatic arch burns.  Sometimes the side of my nose gets a sharp stab.

Now on my left I have occasional flare ups of sharper pain coursing down my jawline and along my zygomatic ridge.

I am currently on 600mg pregabalin (300mg twice daily) and 600mg tegretol (200mg three times daily).  I’m maxed out on pregabalin, and only half way to max on tegretol, but I do not tolerate tegretol well and cannot go any higher.

Sitting around not making any faces or talking, the pain is tiring but manageable.  Talking causes pain.  Some eating causes pain.  Smiling and laughing causes pain.

It’s exhausting.  Explaining it again and again (often to the same people!!) is exhausting.  Being in pain is exhausting.  It’s never ending.

But the worst of it is the medication (tegretol) for treatment of the trigeminal neuralgia cause additional fatigue and aches!  Just what I need with fibromyalgia.

Well, I’ve gotten my referral to the neurologist, and we’re getting an MRI done (likely private, given how long it’s taking for my referral to be triaged!!), and then we’ll see what we can operate on.  Here’s hoping the public system doesn’t make me wait.