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The Attack

July 29, 2011

The shocks didn’t start right away; they built up, but very quickly. I could feel the root of every tooth in my top left jaw. Each time the brush touched a tooth on that side, it was like having ice cold water shoot down from my jaw into each root. So of course, I stopped brushing. This didn’t stop the shocks though. They just kept coming about every 20 seconds, getting stronger each time. The pain got sharper with each shock until it felt like I had ice cold electrified razor blades shooting down from my cheekbone into my teeth. I rushed into the living room, dug around in my purse for my pills, and popped one. I sat on the couch waiting for the pill to kick in. Normally after about 20 minutes I’m ok. Not this time.

The shocks started coming faster and faster until there was only about a second between each one. The pain started to spread upward as well, so I felt the same pain I was feeling in my cheek and teeth in my left eye. My nose went completely numb, and my bottom jaw started to ache more, like I had a knotted muscle, but in the bone. Then the shocks started in my bottom teeth on the left side as well, and my bottom lip went numb. I started to drool. The shocks slowed a bit, coming every 10 seconds or so in a steady, rhythmic pattern.

I muted the TV and started to pace back and forth, waiting for the pain to stop. The sound of my bare feet hitting the carpeted floor was too much. Every time I took a step, I would get a shock of pain. I sat back down. I felt helpless. There was only one thing I could do to try to stop the pain, and I had already done it. All I could do was wait it out. I wanted to cry and scream, but moving my face made the pain worse. I wanted to take a pair of pliers and rip all of my teeth out even though I know it’s not my teeth causing the pain. But of course, I couldn’t walk to get a pair of fliers. So I just sat there, waiting. I couldn’t think clearly.

The shocks slowed down a bit more, back down to about every 20 seconds, and the intensity started to fade. It felt like sharp chips of ice shooting throughout my face. The aching, knotted muscle feeling started to spread further away from my face. It spread from my lower jaw and cheekbone to behind my ear. It got more intense very quickly until it felt like I was being stabbed with an electrified screw driver behind my ear. I felt a tremendous amount of pressure in the left side of my head. Think of the worst sinus headache you’ve ever had, but imagine that pressure all over one side of your head. While the area was spreading, the pain and pace were slowing down. I needed to distract myself somehow until the pill started to really kick in. I decided to try to write an entry about what I was feeling.

My keyboard is very quiet, but every keystroke brought about those intense razorblade-like shocks of pain. I abandoned the entry and turned on my webcam. I opened my mouth to speak, and again the shocks got worse. I could not move my face at all. I tried to write down what I was feeling in a notepad so I could hold it up to the camera, but I was shaking violently from the pain. I looked at the clock. It’d been half an hour since I took my pill. I started to panic.

“Why isn’t it working yet? Is this the most it’s going to do for me now? What do I do now? Do I take more? Is it going to work if I take more?”

I still wasn’t thinking clearly, and decided to try a painkiller I had in my purse. The sound of the purse unzipping was agony. The sound of the pills rattling in the bottle made want to throw them across the room. I took a painkiller, even though it has no effect on this condition.

“What do I do if the painkiller doesn’t work? This stuff makes me sick, what if I take another tegretol and I end up throwing it up because of the painkiller? Why did I take that friggin painkiller?!”

I took another tegretol.

“Now what? What do I do if this doesn’t work? I can’t take any more pills or I’ll get sick, I can’t imagine how much it would hurt to throw up like this. I’m going to go insane if this pill doesn’t work. Do I go to the ER if it doesn’t work? What are they going to do for me? I’ll be sitting there in that loud, drafty waiting room for hours before anyone sees me, it’s going to make the pain so much worse. They’ll probably just think I want painkillers, they won’t work. How am I even going to tell them what’s wrong? I can’t talk, I can’t write. How many of these pills do I have to take now before the pain stops? What if it doesn’t matter how many I take? What if this is permanent? If I get surgery to stop this, how long will that last for? Lots of people keep having attacks after they get surgery, I can’t live like this. The only way those pills might work is if I take all of them….and all of every other pill I have in my house. I have enough meds in here to kill someone twice my size…I could take all of them, go to sleep, and that will be that. I won’t have to feel this pain ever again. But what if I throw up after taking all those pills? What if it doesn’t work? Should I take them all then go jump off the bridge? People have survived jumping off that bridge…how am I going to make this all stop?”

And then my dad pulled into my driveway. I forgot that he was coming to pick me up. Even if I had remembered, I couldn’t call him ahead of time to tell him not to bother because I couldn’t talk. I hastily decided “screw it, I’m not going to let this stop me from doing anything” and left. I never noticed how noisy leaving the house is until that moment. Walking to the door, fumbling with my keys, closing the door, the sound of the keys in the deadbolt; all of it was excruciating. By the time I got to the driveway I was crying hysterically. Every sob, every gasp, every tear that touched my cheek made the pain worse, but I could not stop crying.

I opened the car door and immediately shut off the radio before even getting in. My dad, not paying attention, turned it back on. I slammed my hand on the knob, crying even harder and managed to get out a muffled, semi-shrieking “NOOO!” He left the radio off.

I got into the passenger seat and tried to get hold of myself. I managed to get the crying down to gasps and closed the door (more agony from the sound). Dad quietly asked if I had taken my meds. I tried to say “yes but it’s not working” without moving my mouth but he couldn’t understand what I was saying. I tried again, “NOT WORKING,” I think he understood that time even though it sounded like I had my mouth stuffed with cotton and my jaw wired shut.

I just sat there, staring out the window waiting for the pain to stop. The shocks started to slow down, but every bump in the road gave me another. Somehow I managed to keep myself from crying again. We picked up some coffees; the sound of the change rattling together was so horrible it made me feel like I was going to throw up. It sent the shocks into overdrive. Once we parked and it was quiet, the nausea went away and the shocks slowed down again. They dropped again in intensity, going back to the feeling of ice chips shooting through my face and behind my ear. The pressure all over the left side of my head wouldn’t let up. I started to feel a new pain in my cheek. This new pain was in the actual flesh of my cheek; it felt like a metal rod had been inserted deep under my skin, running the length of my cheekbone, and it felt like it was vibrating. I looked in the side mirror; my bottom lip was drooping on the left side. It looked like I was having a mild stroke. Because my nose was completely numb, it felt like I wasn’t getting any air through my nose when I breathed. But, I couldn’t open my mouth to take a deep breath, so it felt like I was suffocating even though I was getting enough air breathing through my nose.

As time went on the shocks became less intense, back down to the feeling of pressurized ice cold water spraying all over the nerves in my face and teeth. They didn’t slow down too much more, but they were still the closest they had been yet; about every 30 seconds. Then the pain killer hit me.


From → Journal

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