Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Being really unique

Uniqueness isn't necessarily a good thing. Consider this tableau from an MGH exam room yesterday. On the right is my neurosurgeon. Centre is Yours Truly. On the left is a surgical resident. We are all looking--staring, really--at an MRI image of my brain. All of us are trying very hard to maintain clinical decorum, and not to say "what the FUCK?"

For those who haven't taken anatomy and physiology, I must explain that trigeminal nerves come in pairs, one set on the left and one on the right. This is why most people who get to entertain this disorder have it on one side or the other. Only a very unfortunate few have bilateral TN. Just as the experience of unilateral TN is beyond the imagination of most people, bilateral TN is beyond our ability to imagine.

Last Saturday's MRI was meant to determine whether my left side TN was indeed idiopathic, or whether it was the result of vascular compression of the primary trigeminal nerve. With the improvement of imaging and other diagnostic tools, the latter has been found to be the source of TN in the majority of cases. The neurologist was therefore confident that he would discover vascular compression of my left trigeminal nerve.

The MRI showed, instead, compression of my right trigeminal nerve. Exactly what this means is unclear, hence the WTF moment for surgeon, resident and patient. The patient is hopeful (desperately so) that what we have here is an instance of neurological gymnastics and the source of my left TN pain, however odd that might be, is the right vascular compression. The alternative is that bilateral TN is somewhere in my future, and that does not bear thinking about.

At any rate, the next step in the decision process is put off until January. The neurosurgeon initially wanted to see me in December, but I suggested January, because the odds that the Beast will be back in full cry are better then. So January it is. Umm, on Friday the 13th. Fortunately, I'm not superstitious, much.



Blogger massmarrier said...

At the very least, bonne chance. Could work is a big step up from hopeless. Your alert yesterday, when you weren't fully engaged in battle with the Beast, was welcome. Plausible surgery would appeal much more to me than say a visit to the Lourdes grotto.

3:22 pm  

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