Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Did yesterday's barometric pressure cause your pain to spike?

Yesterday my dentist's office called to confirm a cleaning for me, giving me 48 hours notice. I'm a "special needs" dental patient. People who have facial pain or jaw pain knows what that means. We can't always make it to our appointments because prolonged opening of our jaws isn't a good idea. Or perhaps we need our dentist to make an accommodation for us.

When the call came in, I said I'd be there. But I just called to reschedule. It's all about the weather.

Yesterday I took my mother to Jacksonville for a medical appointment. We commented on the fact that the temperature was projected to climb to 91. It seemed unlikely because the morning was soft and breezy, with a nice cloud cover. Nice? Yes. It was a long, humid, hot, steamy summer.

The day got warmer, but there was no steam. Mom and I discussed the fact that it didn't seem so hot. As we were leaving Jacksonville, my jaw began to hurt deep within its condyles. By the time I got home, the pain had intensified quite a bit,  ripping into my ear and down my neck. My right jaw felt as though it wanted to lock shut. I incresed my Baclofen (a prescription muscle relaxer), according to my doctor's instructions, and it helped.

The weather report showed a huge front, low barometric pressure covering most of the country. "That's it," I told my husband.

Today I have heard from others whose pain was active yesterday. It's good to have an explanation. It doesn't make the pain any lighter, but it helps to know that others can validate our experience and that a scientific cause actually exists.

I am thankful to feel much better today. I'll be talking more about the situation with my jaw later because it has everything to do with forgiveness, procedures gone wrong, and how we cope with practitioners who insist they are right even when their techniques have caused us pain.

Did your pain spike yesterday? Are you better today?

I invite you to visit my website,

Monday, October 25, 2010

Celebrating six years

Six years ago yesterday, I had my last electrocution-type pain from trigeminal neuralgia (TN). I thank God for His mercy.

Sometimes the pain from trigeminal neuralgia made it difficult to believe that I could be well again. Some people might call the past six years remission, but I call it a miracle. I was in terrible pain, had been for quite a while, when a group of people gathered around me to pray. The pain left, and it never returned.

As the prayer began, a passage from Psalm 91 was read:

 1He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.  3Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.  4He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. 5Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day. 
My prayers were answered. The trigeminal neuralgia pain stopped. Some people call it remission, but I know that it is a miracle.

About four years ago, I began to have a different type of facial pain. I knew right away it wasn't TN, but diagnosis was difficult. It is caused by my jaw.  I have faith that I will continue to live a life that is free from fear and filled with freedom. I can face the wind, sit under a ceiling fan or an air conditioner vent, and brush my teeth. I can read because my eye no longer hurts. I can talk and smile. And I pray.
May I say a prayer for you? If so, please leave a comment or email me. God bless you.

 Have you visited my website? withgreatmercy

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Easy chew recipe: apple crisp

Fall is here, and although the Florida weather has taken another turn for warm and humid, I've been hankering for some apples. I cooked up this recipe today, trying to minimize sugar, fats, and chewing. If chewing hurts, you may want to avoid this recipe. It's possible that you could pulverize the sauteed apples in a blender to get them to a no-chew consistency.

3 cups finely diced red delicious apples
1 tablespoon Smart Balance light buttery spread
Pinch of stevia (or sugar) and a pinch of cinnamon

1/4 cup ground walnuts
3 tablespoons brown sugar or sugar in the raw
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon water

Peel and dice apples into small pieces as shown.

Saute them in buttery spread for five to seven minutes over medium heat. Stir as they cook. I sprinkled mine with a dash of cinnamon and stevia for extra flavor. When they have been cooked until they are soft, place the apples in a one-quart casserole dish.

 before baking
In a separate container, mix finely ground walnuts (I chopped mine in my Shake and Take), flour, brown sugar (or Sugar in the Raw), and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Toss the mixture evenly onto the apples. Sprinkle with the tablespoon of water.

Bake at 350 degree heat for 30 minutes. Serves three.

This would be great topped with whipped creme, but I can't afford the calories. For more recipes (easy or no-chew) please use the google tool at the top of my blog.

Have you visited my website? With Great Mercy

Friday, October 15, 2010

Decisions We Cannot Undo

When I worked as the director of patient services for a facial pain organization, it was not unusual to receive a phone call, an email, or to talk face to face with an individual who regretted having a procedure.  The discontent was usually directed at two people: the physician or health care practitioner who performed the deed and at the person who underwent the treatment.

It's so easy to blame one's self, to want to go back and undo it. People often torment themselves with wondering why they made the decision.

Let yourself off the hook. Consider this:

* You were taking action to improve your situation.

* You were in terrible pain and made a decision that seemed sound.

* You underwent an approved procedure.

Other considerations are possible. Maybe you spoke to someone at a facial pain organization or someone who had the same procedure and got better. Perhaps you are responsible for someone else's care and did what you could in hopes of being able to help others. Maybe you felt as though you could not continue to endure the pain.

If we saw someone enduring terrible pain, we would expect them to do something to try to relieve it. That's what you did. You're not guilty, not foolish, not rash. When we look at numbers, it can be difficult to measure the success of a procedure. Even if only one percent of treatments have side effects, what if we are the one?

We think positively, moving ahead with the course of action. We want to function again, to have a life, a career, and to be productive. But if things go wrong, it's difficult to continue to "think on the bright side of life." But thinking in a positive manner continues to be a powerful tool, regardless of the extent of suffering. Most of us with facial conditions have walked through some dark places, times when positive thoughts eluded us. We've got to move ahead, find hope again.

Whatever went wrong, it's not your fault. Accepting that will help you deal with circumstances that surround your decision, circumstances such as Anesthesia Dolorosa, increased pain, or numbness. It also means letting go of anger and bitterness that arises with the practitioner and possibly the fact that we have paid that person for a procedure that didn't help us.

We've done the best we can do. 

I've never had a procedure for facial pain, but I had one for my jaw. The procedure, including travel and lodging, was about $25,000 out of pocket. And my jaw got worse. Much worse. It's not easy to deal with, and it gives me insight into regret. I had more than one opinion about my jaw, and I saw the best of the best. Maybe I'll blog more about it at another time.

We want pain to go away. It's even more important to "get rid of it" when those around us don't understand it's severity. Being angry with one's self can cause depression, frustration, and lack of confidence. Forgive yourself.

Just a shout-out: I want to thank the Lord for helping me through trigeminal neuralgia. 

Have you visited my website?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Another about face

A couple of weeks ago, I wondered why the blemishes on my forehead, chin, nose, and cheek had not gone away. After all, I'm fifty-something and should be past this stage. I didn't question why I had broken out, considering the amount of stress caused by family illnesses lately. (Plus, I'm having stress caused by a jaw problem, but I'll discuss that in a future entry.) And we've had a Florida summer, hot and humid.

I took a good look at the skin eruptions in the magnifying mirror, and I decided it needed to be checked. It looked a little like a bubble. Years ago, a similar bubble on my face had been basal cell carcinoma, something I discuss in With Great Mercy.  A couple of days after discovering the blemish, my husband took me to see my dermatologist in Jacksonville.

With a quick glance, my physician diagnosed Rosacea. What? Shouldn't this have occurred when I was younger? Why isn't my face red? The doctor explained that it often shows up in middle age, doesn't necessarily cause redness, and that my mild case could be easily treated. Thankful that the situation was benign and my outbreak in early stages, I took a sample of Finacea and the accompanying literature he offered me. The pamphlet listed some of Rosacea's triggers. Stress is one. Hot, humid weather is another cause. The information given by the makers of Finacea advises people who have the skin irritation to stay away from hot baths, hot tubs, and saunas.

There goes one of my stress relievers, my big tub with jets. Isn't it amazing, how the very things that help us can also harm us?

After using the product a couple of weeks, I've noticed quite an improvement. Being a rehabilitation counselor, I like to read the fine print to see the contraindications. But this time I didn't. I've stayed in the "patient zone" and out of the advocate's area. I really wanted to give the medication a chance. Now that the outbreak is clearing, I'm hoping to be brave enough to read the fine print. The fine print can be like a commercial for a medication, one whose side-effects can frighten a person out of trying it.

After having experienced the pain of trigeminal neuralgia and a terrible jaw issue, I'm thankful the diagnosis wasn't something that required a complex decision. If you would like more information on Rosacea, the Mayo Clinic has some good information.

Every day I say a prayer for people who have facial pain. God bless you on your path to healing.

Have you visited my website? With Great Mercy