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Patient Testimonials and Trigeminal Neuralgia Resources

 Trigeminal Neuralgia: Success Stories

Betsy G., Cypress, CA
To the Skull Base Institute and Dr. Shahinian,

I would like to thank you for starting me on my second chance in life. You performed a miracle! After ten years of almost constant pain, your surgery on my trigeminal nerve completely erased all of the pain, frustration, and debilitating problems it had caused. 2004 was the beginning, and today, I am still completely pain-free and totally back to my normal self.

My trigeminal neuralgia started during the summer of 1994. It started with a shooting pain that took me down to my knees. I didn’t know what it was. About a half hour later, the shooting pain came again. It was like an electric shock going through my body. Many days passed before it returned, but when it did, it started to come in a more regular fashion. My pain was in the lower part of the trigeminal nerve, right below my bottom right teeth.

My assumption was that I had a tooth problem. After not finding anything, my dentist sent me to an endodontist. After FOUR root canals, a dentist that I met at a party suggested that it wasn’t my teeth at all. He told me about the UCLA pain center. There, they diagnosed the trigeminal neuralgia. Instead of paying the last $600 for my root canals, I sent the endodontist information about trigeminal neuralgia. He never contacted me.

I started seeing a neurologist on a regular basis. His prognosis was to take medication. I started with Tegretol, then Baclofin, then Neuronten, and then a combination of all three. Each time I was given more dosage because nothing was solving the problem.

My symptoms were constant aching and often totally debilitating shocks that would create chaos. I couldn’t brush my teeth, talk on the phone, eat cold or hot food without having pain. I had a hard time even speaking, and I was a teacher, for goodness sake. I had three young children, and I just kept going with my life, until I’d come home, my husband would take over, and I’d go to sleep, so I wouldn’t feel the pain.

I went to many places to seek help. At Script’s Institute in San Diego, they suggested taking a needle and putting it into an area in the skull that would alleviate the pain, but they said that would only last five years. I still don’t quite understand what they were talking about. I went to Memorial Hospital in Long Beach, and they suggested higher doses of medication. I even heard of people using magnets to help with the pain. Nothing sounded plausible, and the only thing I heard from neurologists, and I went to many, was to continue with the medication, as long as it was doing the job. But, it wasn’t.

By 2004, I was walking into walls at the school where I was teaching. I was overmedicated, and I knew it, but there wasn’t any other option, in order to continue with my daily life. That was true, until one of my good friends called me one day to tell me she had seen Dr. Shahinian on the health channel, and she thought he was helping someone with my condition. Another good friend made the phone call to the Skull Base Institute for me. I couldn’t talk on the phone. They told her I sounded like a perfect candidate. We went and saw Dr. Shahinian the next week. He took a total circular x-ray of my trigeminal nerve. I had two blood vessels wrapped around it, and three arteries pressing against it. His words were heaven to my ears-"I can take care of this." Those were the words for which I had been searching.

My surgery lasted for five hours. He removed the blood vessels from the nerve, and he put tephlon between the nerve and the arteries. I had a large ‘C' on the back of my scalp with staples in it, where he had done the surgery. I had to go off of the medication cold turkey, so I was awake for probably two weeks. But, nothing mattered. I was overjoyed. I had no pain! I was cured! It was a miracle!

Anyone with trigeminal neuralgia should have this surgery. There is nothing worse than constant pain, with no letup! When a person finds that his/her life is constricted because of this condition, it is frightening, frustrating, and completely overpowering. The only way to not let it win is to get rid of it altogether. Take it from one who lived with it for ten full years! Eight years and counting-pain free!! THANK YOU, Dr. Shahinian, from the bottom of my heart, for giving me my life back!!

Elizabeth G.,(Betsy)
Cypress, CA

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