I am unique, peculiar, unusual, and have no underlying causes. Actually, so too is my chronic facial and dental pain.
The facial pain started one afternoon in 1998 while I was standing in a grocery store line with a loaf of bread, a carton of coffee cream, and a bag of russet potatoes. While perusing tabloid headlines such as “A Three-Headed Alien is the Father of My Baby and He Owes Me a Light-year’s Worth of Child Support,” a spot on the left side of my face started to hurt, and hasn’t stopped hurting since. The intensity of the discomfort has increased; once semi-managed by (ever larger) doses of OTC NSAIDS, now a combination of prescription meds can only blunt the pain.
Feeling left out, a nerve-dead molar (of course on the left side!) later joined in on the fun. The deep aching and throbbing can now include the rest of my teeth, and occasional electric shocks zapping mainly the lower ones. The dead teeth remain dead (this parrot is deceased) and the live ones consistently check out as fine but still hurt like h**l. My prescription meds do little or nothing for my dental pain.
Any combination of cramps in my small and/or large colon, severe headache or migraine, sinus infections, allergies, the level of stress, the constant lack of restful, REM sleep, the state of my mental health have an impact on how well I deal with chronic pain on any given day.
There is deterioration of bone caused by osteoarthritis in the back of the neck, and upper spine. Two nerves impinged on the left side of the neck and muscle spasms probably contribute to the facial pain. (However, with applied pressure at the site of the impingement, I scream because that spot hurts not because it causes an increase in my facial pain.) These conditions aren’t the root (excuse the pun) cause for my dental issues. (Some recent research suggests that misfiring nerves in the gums may cause this pain.)
Hubby and I talk about the possibility of my applying for a disability pension. This is conundrum; although having an identifiable medical condition is NO guarantee of a successful application, how do I prove my case without a specific named condition, a truly invisible illness, even with impingement, and osteoarthritis? Until I met my primary care physician in 2004, I hadn’t been able to convince ANY doctor of the existence and level of the pain. However, when considering the intractable pain, the ravaging of body, mind, and soul, the shortened life expectancy that go with many chronic illnesses and conditions, my facial and dental problems seem minor. I feel like a whiner and complainer.
But, then each time my body sabotages me, each time I try unsuccessfully to cut back on my meds, each time my pain stops me from doing even simple tasks, I think about the application. Because my case could be so difficult, complex, exhausting, and expensive to prove, I can’t stand to apply. But on nights like tonight, I can’t stand not to either.