(Today’s blog post is part of the Blogging From A to Z Challenge during which writers all over the world blog each day in April based on a corresponding letter of the alphabet. These are my personal stories about living with Trigeminal Neuralgia, the most painful diagnosis known to man.)
Major events – even good ones – change us. Each one is like getting a new haircut. The person that walks in is different than who they are walking out. Sometimes the change is for the better and sometimes you go in asking for a little trim and walk out with a crew cut (that actually did happen to me once).
That’s been one of the biggest challenges with having TN. I don’t want the condition to define me, but it’s obvious that I’m not the same person I was before the diagnosis. First there’s the obvious physical stuff – the weight gain, the loss of energy and of course, the searing pain that runs across my cheek every moment of every day.
In some ways, the physical changes are easier to accept. But the immeasurable changes to my identity, my sense of self, are much more challenging. I used to be sharp, quick on the uptake, and now I feel like I am perpetually walking around with a “Huh?” expression on my face. The first drug I was put on threw me into an OCD spiral with some impulse control overtones. I can remember dancing in the aisles of the grocery store with my mom when I was 3, but conversations from last week escape me. If someone asks, “Hey, whatcha been up to?” I scramble to find anything to say, no matter how minuscule. I used to work at a Fortune 100 company for gosh sake, and now I feel an unwarranted sense of accomplishment if I take a shower and vacuum the floor on the same day. Truth is, I’m not Trigeminal Neuralgia. I’m just not sure who I really am at this point.