I went home from the dentist and didn’t go straight to my GP, because I was overwhelmed and tired and wanted to be in my flat. My partner tucked me on one of our sofas and tried to make me something to eat, which I think may have been a tin of ravioli, because it was the softest thing we had in. I remember bursting into tears as soon as it touched my mouth and going to bed sobbing my eyes out. I was screaming at him to get me some painkillers, but I was always eating paracetamol and ibuprofen like sweets. He nipped across the road to the chemist and came back with all the cocodamol that the pharmacist would allow.
It’s really strange, the things that go through your head when you’re in pain. I remember trying to hang my mouth slightly open, because I was convinced that my problem was that I was clenching my jaw, which I probably was at the pain, but definitely wasn’t the cause of my pain.
Then my entire face went numb.
I couldn’t feel my face. I don’t know if this actually happened, if I was delusional from the amount of pain I was in, if my brain had decided enough was enough, or whatever else, but I couldn’t even feel myself touching my cheek on the left side of my face. So I called 111 again.
I was asked the general questions relating to if I was having a stroke and advised to see my dentist again, but I was hysterical, so was offered an emergency walk in appointment, with a very pleasant GP who sent me away with codeine to see me through til I could see my own GP and a neurologist. He said that it looked like some kind of nerve pain, but because I didn’t feel particularly hair sore, he wouldn’t diagnose it as TN. It’s amazing how the lack of one symptom at that particular time meant to a doctor that I couldn’t have something like TN wrong with me. He also commented on my age and said how rare it was for someone so young (I was 23 at the time) could have neuralgia – something I know realise is ridicious, because I’m sure many of you reading this are in your twenties or first started with you neuralgia in your twenties!
The pain, of course, came back after a couple of hours. I had a painful weekend. I slept on and off, I ran out of tears very early on, I lay in my bed half conscious when my partner was trying to talk to me or give me my painkillers. I didn’t eat or get a proper night of sleep. This was the start of a very rough patch for our relationship, because I stopped being a girlfriend and just became a shell of myself. I owe my partner so much for everything he’s done for me over the past few years, but especially that weekend. It was the most difficult few days of my life and I could not have done it without him.
On the Monday morning, I went into work like normal – nothing is ever stopping me! – and called my GP for an emergency appointment from there and this is where my journey to diagnosis began.
I know this isn’t the happiest story to read, but I find it really interesting and useful to hear people’s first experiences with neuralgia. It’s different for everyone, but sometimes I’ll hear something that is exactly how I felt too and I feel less alone. Please keep sharing your stories with me. They’re not only helping me, but they will also help others and it might even help yourself to get it all out in the open and off your chest.
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