Well, isn’t that a loaded topic?
If you have chronic pain, I really feel for you. If you have trigeminal neuralgia, aka “The Suicide Disease” (what a pleasant description), I really, really, really feel for you. See all those blue “bullet trains” parts in the woman above? That would be your trigeminal nerve. IT goes alllllll through your brain. TN’s main cause is when blood vessels compress the nerve.
10 years ago, when I was only 28, I had a brain tumor the size of a tangerine, in which I had 30 hours under the knife and Gamma Knife radiation to stop it’s growth. It still lingers up there, and in my case, my TN comes from the remains of that tumor compressing the nerve. My pain is in my mouth mostly, and certain foods exacerbate it, etc. I’ve had to figure a lot of things out. Vitamins, bland food, liquid diet.
Many people try many meds, surgeries, meds stop working, onto another med, etc. They self-medicate with a few drinks at night and cannabis oil. Yesterday I dropped $400 for a prescription for Lyrica, and this shit better dance! (Thanks, healthcare/insurance!) So far so good. Then I jinx myself raving about it, and it stops working. Every. time.
Prior to surgery, I dated a man in Utah who was an alcoholic. (Yes, I learned to drink in Utah of all places) — this was back in 2002, when the Olympics were there and you needed “Sponsors” to get into a bar. Isn’t that actually the opposite of what a sponsor should do? But I digress. He was a functioning alcoholic, I was a new drinker, and in it for the fun!
But then after my surgery, I had a toolbox of negative coping skills. I immediately started drinking the pain away. It worked, but simultaneously destroyed my life. So I got sober, and on the pain train of meds, etc. TN is also progressive.
Last week I had a new kind of flare for 5 days, face down with ice/heat, two missed days of work, and a week ago, I finally understood why people commit suicide with this condition. Some people have my flare of pain all the time. But by Wednesday, I was insane with pain. Almost 5 years sober, I relapsed. Downed one last champagne bottle from my wedding in April. I really don’t know how it happened, I was blinded by pain. And the booze worked! What a double-edged sword to have both of these issues.
I righted myself immediately and told my husband what I’d done, called my sponsor, and am back at square one in AA. My husband is a HUGE supporter of both of my issues. He took the alcohol out of the house, although I really don’t have any desire to drink. I feel like I should get a “Pain pass” for this short relapse, but I realize, I’d really had my pinky-toe dipped in AA at that point anyway, I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t working my program…which I also need to stay alive.
But for today, I have a pain reprieve. Looking into surgery later this summer. The break in pain is an immense relief, and I can’t believe the change in my mood, more patience with my clients, and overall happy to be where I need to be.
I didn’t write this blog to whine, hopefully it illustrates the many issues people deal with – both substance abuse and chronic pain. May all of you find relief, if just for a moment, and make sure you’ve covered all of your bases. I do wish I didn’t have to deal with both, but if I had to pick one, I’d definitely rather be an alcoholic practicing sobriety than the pain. Chronic pain is all-consuming. Advocate, especially if you work, so your “higher-ups” know what is really going on. And know that someone is out there sending all the positive vibes I can. And maybe some of you will send me some.
Thanks for reading.