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Neuralgia – to medicate or not?

June 15, 2017

That is the Question.

I have a form of Neuralgia. What is that? My description of the pain is – random severe nerve pain all around and behind my left ear, leaving me unable to concentrate, speak and function when it’s at it’s worst.

The pain can last from a couple of minutes to, more recently, a couple of hours. It overshadows everything else that is happening and if I can, I just head for the bed. That doesn’t shift it, nothing does, but at least all I have to do is lie there.

It strikes when I’m driving, in work, out with friends, out running… anywhere and everywhere. It also strikes every single night, waking me. It’s nerve pain, so pain killers won’t even touch it.

I could no longer take the random attacks and a while ago decided to get it investigated. It started with a visit to an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist… he found nothing, then a CT scan of my brain…. nothing.

Then two and a half hours in an MRI machine getting five scans of my brain. That was not a whole lot of fun but meditation kept me ok and still.

The results of that…. nothing.. all clear. Which of course is good news as there was no sign of MS, strokes, tumors etc…. so after all of these tests my neurologist confirmed that, by process of elimination, I do have Neuralgia of the fifth nerve that wraps around my ear.

I have tried three different hard core medications to ease the pain including anticonvulsant meds and tricyclic antidepressants. At certain dosage these meds are very effective at treating nerve pain and many other issues.

They both came with horrible side effects including shaking, unbelievable drowsiness, chronic thirst, problems with my sight, restlessness, weight gain, huge forgetfulness, swollen glands and basically being off my trolly! I took varying doses of these meds, increasing the dose with my doctors guidance.

A proceedure called Gamma Knife was suggested which is radio therapy into the nerve in my head. This option scared me so I decided to try acupuncture. He worked his magic and it really did work but it’s just not financially viable to keep up a weekly appointment I’m afraid.

I’ve just visited a Pain Specialist in the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry – what a gaff! – and have now been booked in for a procedure involving needles into my neck and skull… I can’t even think about it.. to treat my wonky nerve. I may have preferred the Gamma Knife procedure!

This consultant has suggested I try the antidepressant medication in a low dose and just at night time. And I don’t know what to do.

I bought them; they’re up beside my bed. Perhaps at this lower dose they will be side effect free but it’s only after three weeks you begin to see any results.

You see, they are altering the chemicals in my brain and I’m not sure I’m cool with that.

But does that trump the random pain?

I think I’ll sleep on it.

 

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