2/17/12

a little less numbing

Frightened. It's the only word that comes to mind that truly describes my state of mind before and after my consult with Dr. Foo. 

Before, because of this unmitigable unknown origin of electric pain. All my thoughts at every interval of that week were centered solely on the ache and the cringe of my right cheek. And so focused was I that documenting every nuance of what I was feeling was the only way I could cope and everything else, and frankly everyone else, faded away into the ambient background of life.

After, if only because the consult with the nuerologist did little to assuage my fears--a younger doctor, early 30s at best, a product of this new generation of multi-taskers. Dr. Foo was distracted during the office part of the visit---answering his phone, efiling scrips on the computer, switching between the two screens and my face. His focus was better in the examination room, and I soon learned of his high intelligence (and apparent cause for an undeveloped bedside manner--I think perhaps medical programs may want to institute a behavioral course that provides study for both psych interns and residents to role play with patients). He performed a series of tests that eeriely reminded me of my Dad's exam post-stroke and included facial exercises, hand to eye coordination and walking the DWI line.

A summary of my appointment noted (2) possible causes for the face numbing and tightness, #1 a stroke and #2 a trigeminal nerve injury.  Dr. Foo recommended an MRI scan be performed to rule out signs of trauma, a tumor or MS. 

Friday late afternoon, I found myself lying face up in a rattle and hum icebox of a machine clad in a flimsy gown for my first-ever MRI.  Although the technician outfitted me with a headset to drown out the noise and avert my attention from the lack of any climate, I nearly froze during that 30 minute scan. How on earth Michael Jackson ever considered freezing himself for eternity is beyond me. 

The technician instructed me not to move my head or neck so the scan could get a proper reading, and then handed over a panic button just in case the enclosed space freaked me out. Thank goodness I had not inherited Dad's intense fear of closed spaces/claustrophobia. The music pumped in as the decibel level fluctuated from the racket of a bad neighbor to the trilling of an air raid siren to the jackhammer delight of a madman on a construction site to an annoying car alarm circa 1980s to an electronica DJ session of the worst kind ending in the grand finale of a woodpecker duel. 

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A week later MRI results came back negative and Dr. Foo started me on a prescription of gabapentin, an anticonvulsant medication most often used to treat epileptic seizures. The enclosed pamphlet listing all the possible side effects read like a wikipedia page written by Stephen King, and I was suddenly grateful that my dose was at night.

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