Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dental procedures and getting through them

Having anxiety about dental appointments is common for people who have trigeminal neuralgia, facial pain, and jaw joint issues.

I've counseled people through dental anxiety, and tonight I've gone through a mental checklist because I have a procedure tomorrow. Although I have not had trigeminal neuralgia pain in many years, I have experienced other types of face pain. I also have a jaw that has caused serious issues.

Preparation, phase one: I arranged help with transportation. I won't be going to the dentist's office alone. Someone will drive me.

Phase two: I've made notes to communicate important things to my dentist, in case I forget to discuss them with him.

Three: My neurologist advised me to take a Baclofen (muscle relaxer) and something for anxiety before the procedure. If I were having TN symptoms, he might adjust my anti-seizure medications. Instead of having shots in my mouth, I've arranged for my dentist to use nitrous oxide.

Like many individuals, trigeminal neuralgia manifested itself in me immediately after I had a root canal. I had a cracked tooth. It wasn't painful, but the dentist thought I should have a root canal and referred me to an endodontist. Trigeminal neuralgia set in almost immediately. Perhaps your story is similar to mine.

If you have active TN, it may benefit you if your dentist and neurologist coordinate their efforts to make sure you are medicated properly.

I still have one more preparation tonight. I'm going to read some Psalms, including Chapter 91. No fear. Only faith.

Do you have anxiety about dental appointments? Tips for others?

Have you visited my website?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pushing through pain and anxiety

Most of us have pushed through the pain. Let's face it. Sometimes we have to.

Have you ever stretched your limits, tackled the matter at hand and felt better as a result of it? It's happened to me. Maybe it's the event that actually makes us feel better and the people we enjoy seeing while we're out. It could also be that during the occasion you felt like the person you were before facial pain became a part of daily life. You are still that person. 

You've changed somewhat, but you haven't morphed into someone else. You share the same past with the "pre-war" persona known as you. You'll share the same future. It may not be exactly as you expected, but with some creativity and formidable determination, your future can still be bright.

Just one more question. Have you ever stretched your limits, tackled the matter, and noticed that your pain spiked significantly? Perhaps it was because the event itself was stressful. The environment was cold, windy, noisy. Or you had to interact with people who don't understand your rare disorder. Maybe it was a situation that would have caused you to experience stress even if you were healthy.

Choosing whether to push through or avoid the "event" requires careful examination. The decision is difficult, and there's no measurement, no exact science, to indicate the outcome. But there are some questions we can ask ourselves.

As you get ready for the occasion (which could mean simply going to a movie, eating out, or a day of shopping), do you find yourself more fatigued as you move get dressed and groom yourself? If the answer is a big yes, then the event might trigger greater pain. Maybe you would benefit more from a quiet, restful day at home.

Consider your environment. Will you have a chance to break from it? This could mean retreating to a quiet room away from the party, the ability to step inside from the wind, or having an established  relationship with a person who can accommodate your disability.

Ask yourself if one particular person is pushing you to move forward with the function. Situations like this can be tricky. While we don't want to disappoint someone else, we have the right to ask for flexibility and latitude. We have limitations.

Think about rescheduling. If your appointment can easily be postponed, doing so may be a good solution.

Envision the worst case scenario should the pain spike. Have a plan and a person who will support you. Make an agreement about how to signal your need to leave the event and follow through with it if necessary. If you are unable to formulate a plan, chances are the event may be at high risk of causing additional pain and stress.

Trial and error teaches us much about what we can and cannot tolerate. What suggestions or questions do you have?

Have you visited my website?