Years ago, when I was new to the world of trigeminal neuralgia, I was visiting my neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. He asked me if I had eye pain, and I was shocked, thinking he could read my mind. I didn’t realize that he asked because eye pain is so problematic for people who have trigeminal neuralgia. And until then, I thought the “discomfort” was my imagination or just referred pain from my jaw and cheek.

 Sure, I had seen diagrams of the trigeminal nerve and noticed that one of it’s divisions is located in the eye area. But I didn’t want to face the reality that my eye might be affected. As time progressed and the pain became worse, my eye bothered me more.

Sometimes I felt as though my eye would pop out. The pressure and the pain were terrible and it made reading difficult, stealing one more ability from me. And isolation spread itself through my life like a cancer that refused to be arrested.

This is where my story of hope begins, hope that someway somehow God would intervene and take trigeminal neuralgia from me. I prayed that I’d have the courage to move forward with a surgery or that the pain would stop. I knew all about TN going into remission, and I asked please Lord. Let it go into remission forever.  In October 2004, the pain left.

I still have jaw joint pain, but I am thankful it’s not trigeminal neuralgia. And it was great to begin life again. Socially, it’s been difficult. I live in a small town. People had never heard of trigeminal neuralgia, and they thought I was being a drama queen. After all I had been a drama teacher. They never understood the validity of my disability.

Yesterday, I was prescribed contact lenses. Today, unlike yesterday, I’ve been successful at putting them in and taking them out. This process is easy for some, but I’ve always been a little nervous about putting eye drops in or getting close to my eye.

After several attempts yesterday to put in my new contacts, I thought I wouldn’t be able to stop my strong reflex to blink. But today I got them in just fine. I put one inside out and had to take it out and put it back in again. I know I can do this.

The entire time I struggled with the simple procedure, I kept thinking if I can get through trigeminal neuralgia I can learn to do something simple like put in contact lenses. It gave me the incentive to persist.

The disability known as trigeminal neuralgia causes us all to learn that we are stronger than we imagined. How has the pain helped you recognize your strength? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comments are welcome.