Sister Claire H. – Trigeminal Neuralgia

Sister Claire H. - Trigeminal Neuralgia

My Name is Sister Claire H. I am 82 years of age. I give full credit for my recovery to the surgeon, Dr. Mark McLaughlin, Spine and Brain Specialist; Dr. Kulka, my attending physician at the time; as well as the excellent care and concern received at St. Mary Hospital.

Two years ago, I had early symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia. I experienced unpredicted occurrences of pain in my lower jaw and face. My primary physician at this time recommended Tegretol. Within a few weeks, the pain was gone.

If February of this year, the pain returned with greater intensity. I experienced much anxiety because I had no way of knowing when the trauma of the pain would occur. Often chewing, speaking, or swallowing seemed to trigger this severe shock-like pain. A neurologist associated with Holy Redeemer Hospital treated me for several months using various degrees and dosages of Tegretol. I experienced many side effects including dizziness, poor balance and sluggishness.

Two days of repeated nausea, while visiting a friend in Malvern, seemed to bring about the climax. A doctor at Paoli Hospital Emergency Room diagnosed my discomfort as toxic overdose of medication. After I left that hospital, I went to my sister’s home in Newtown and, subsequently, was admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital on May 9 until May 13 under the care of Dr. Kulka. During this time, I had two sessions of nerve block. Motrin was now used to stabilize the pain.

Dr. McLaughlin was recommended and contacted by my sister Ann H. He responded immediately. I again entered St. Mary’s on May 31. On June 7, I had Microvascular Decompression Surgery performed by Dr. McLaughlin. He had determined that a blood vessel and nerve were touching and causing the pain. An implant of Teflon was placed between a blood vessel and nerve behind my right ear. I was told that this was the first of this type of surgery performed at St. Mary’s. I left the hospital on June 13. It took me a few months to get my energy back, the spot where my surgery was performed is still healing, but I have my life back. With a grateful heart, I am back at St. Matthew’s Catholic School celebrating my 57th year of Teaching.

CONGRATULATIONS TO SISTER CLAIRE who was selected as one of three winning entries into the Neurosurgical Patient stories initiative. Her story will be printed in a news release to be sent out during Neurosurgery Awareness week, April 22-27, 2006.  Her story will also be posted on the American Association of Neurological Surgeons Website.

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