I’m Not Too Young

I’m sick of people telling me I’m ‘too young’ to have my health problems.

A couple of months ago, a dentist at the hospital advice gave me unsolicited advice to “ask for another MRI” and questioned me on three separate occasions whether I definitely had trigeminal neuralgia, because I am ‘very young for it’. If she could have taken that up with my trigeminal nerve, that would have been great.

I don’t fit the ‘look’ for someone with a facial pain condition that they usually say occurs in ‘older women’ and someone who has a retinal condition that affects my vision.

When I go to the eye hospital, I’m usually assigned to a specific macular clinic, so I’m sat in the waiting room in a sea of elderly patients with age related eye conditions. I lost the central vision in one of my eyes in my late twenties.

When I first got trigeminal neuralgia, multiple medical professionals just told me that I was too young, despite me displaying relevant symptoms.

Simply, the fact I am ‘young’ means that I should be perfectly healthy. That’s great, in theory. Unfortunately, I think someone forgot to tell my body that, because sometimes, I feel like I’m falling to pieces.

It’s not helpful for you to tell me that I am too young and, honestly, it can really wind me up sometimes. It doesn’t make my condition any less painful and it doesn’t cure me, so please, with all due respect, if you have an opinion about my age and medical conditions, please keep them to yourself unless I ask.

The problem with people somehow getting stuck on the idea that trigeminal neuralgia is mainly for older people is how this can then be pretty dismissive of young people with TN.

My friend had brain surgery as a child for TN. She is a decade younger than me and her family had to fight to get her the surgery she desperately needed. Despite living with TN through school, she passed her exams and now she’s at university. She’s an incredible young person with trigeminal neuralgia. I dread to think how many times she’s heard “but you’re too young”, but I can imagine it’s hundreds more times than I heard it when I got neuralgia in my early twenties.

Over at the TNA UK, we have a Young Person’s Support Group, run by my friend. If you’re under the age of 25 and would like to join as a member, you can receive support from similar aged members and also have access to all the other great stuff the charity has to offer. To read more about what the TNA UK has to offer, please click here. We also run regional support groups for people with facial pain of all ages.

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Personal Trigeminal Neuralgia

1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. Argh, this makes me so livid! I’m sorry for what you’ve been through, for the inane comments you’ve received. I was fobbed off for several years for being too young for there to be anything wrong with me and variations on that point. I was 19 and apparently no, I couldn’t have bowel issues. When I ended up with all the health problems I now have, it’s impossible for some medical professionals to even comprehend that “invisible illness” means most people with them will look “fine” and “normal”.

    If they can’t see it, you can’t have it; if you don’t meet the textbook definition, you can’t have it; if you’re not in the average age range, you can’t have it.

    It’s damaging & incredibly dangerous. This sort of narrow-minded incompetence should have been tampered down in healthcare services over the last decade but it seems many aren’t interested in thinking outside the box or listening to the patient in front of them.

    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

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