Last year, during a severe pain attack, I was asked, “What’s it feel like?”
I remember writhing where I sat, wanting to rip my face off, wanting to tear it away, my hands held in front of me like claws, as if that part of my body would go rogue and tear away my flesh, make the pain reach that indefinable crescendo until it finally abated. I couldn’t think.
Stabbing. Gouging. Slicing. Bolts of pain shooting along each branch of the trigeminal nerve, mainly in the left side of my face. This morning I endured two hours of this, at what I call “Level 20.” I remember being in the hospital, and someone asked me, “On a scale of one to ten, how bad is the pain?”
Beyond ten. Beyond.
I think of that now, when I slip into an attack like a child drowning in a vast ocean, lost in the agony of that pressure, desperately trying to breach the surface.
While pounding my fist into a pillow, weeping at times, I try not to move, try not to breathe, try not to do anything that might worsen the effects. The only thing I can do is wait it out. When the flare-up reaches a particular level, there’s nothing stopping it, nothing to soothe it. Nothing works except the passage of time.
I have lidocaine patches on my face. I wrap my head up in a scarf. Sometimes it helps. I walk to the mailbox and think, “What do others see?” And when they discover my condition, they invariably wonder, “What’s it feel like?”
You don’t want to know.
For more information: TNA, The Facial Pain Association