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Trigeminal Neuralgia - Patrick's Story

Tell Us Your Story - PAtients

In this interview, one of our patients describes his experience with trigeminal neuralgia and the care he received from Dr. McLaughlin.

DALE: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, Patrick?

PATRICK: I'm 70 years old and I'm a retired funeral director and I never had any serious problems until I developed this trigeminal neuralgia and that put me in touch with Princeton Brain and Spine. I couldn't have imagined this even existed much less was my problem.

But I have three children and a wife and 6 grand children. I'm very fortunate to have come this far, and this health issue came up in the middle of everything and was a serious problem for me.

DALE: Is trigeminal neuralgia what brought you Princeton Brain and Spine?

PATRICK: Exactly, yep. I was actually diagnosed with it maybe 5 or 6 years ago but I didn't want to believe it.

DALE: Did you try anything else before getting in contact with Dr. McLaughlin?

PATRICK: I kind of went through a whole dental alternative because the pain was focused in my teeth, and I was hoping that we could've solved this with a dental intervention. I went to all kinds of specialists and they just kept coming back with the same conclusions, that this wasn't a dental problem, that it was more serious than that. And then I finally went back to the neurologist and he says that's what I told you it was all along.

Towards the end of the dental stuff, it became a problem because I used a gum doctor and he created a situation where whatever he did to my gums made the whole problem worse and now I was on some serious medication. I needed this intervention and I really needed a good neurosurgeon. Nobody really could help me and nobody knew about Dr. McLaughlin or the Princeton Brain and Spine Care.

DALE: So after you tried your dental approach, how did you move on to Princeton Brain and Spine Care?

PATRICK: My doctors and dentists at the time, they kind of left it up to me. They said it was a very weird, unusual disease and it's not a common thing. There aren't a lot of doctors who treat this because it's not common. So then I went down to the college hospital in Newark, the medical center, and I spent an afternoon down there I kept coming up with this Dr. Jannetta and I thought “Dr. Jannetta… this seems to be the gold standard here.”

Then I made that connection, and I discovered that Dr. McLaughlin was one of his disciples and that's what brought me down to Princeton and that was a crucial link in the chain.

DALE: Did you go straight to Dr. McLaughlin or did you try other neurologists as well?

PATRICK: I went to see Dr. McLaughlin and I went to see another doctor at Johns Hopkins who was equally impressive and I had to decide finally between these two people. I spoke to a doctor friend of mine and he said he would take Dr. McLaughlin because he said he was a sole practitioner, he had his own practice and wasn't working for the hospital, and that I would get better care because of that. And I went with that advice and I never looked back.

It was great advice to choose him because of that.

DALE: What was it like to be treated by Dr. McLaughlin?

Dr. McLaughlin assured me that he was going to take personal interest in this condition of mine and he was going to personally do the surgery. He wasn't going to give it to some intern or some school system and that was very reassuring because the whole process was pretty terrifying up till then.

Dr. McLaughlin brought a lot of confidence and a lot of compassion to me and I was convinced that he was the right choice for me. I committed to the treatment and I couldn't be happier. It's just terrific the way it all worked out.

DALE: How did Dr. McLaughlin work with you during this whole process?

PATRICK: Every step of the way he was so confident in his intervention. He said, “This is the way it's going to work.” He laid it all out and he got me in touch with the hospital and things just moved right along. I can't say enough about him. It's a blessing from God to have somebody like that on the planet. It was terrific and I don't think anybody can appreciate what it means to be terrified of this kind of pain until it really belongs to you.

DALE: Did you have any apprehensions about your treatment beforehand?

PATRICK: I remember asking Dr. McLaughlin if it was possible that this could become worse or could this become distracting, where pills couldn't relieve my pain. It was a moment of truth there, It was hard to explain how reassuring it was. He wasn't cavalier, but he was very reassuring and said, “This is going to work out. Trust me and this is going to work out.”

It was also just his presence that he projected and I kind of bought into that aura. The truth is, when I look back on it now he was right on every count. He called every shot all along the way and it turned out exactly as he said it would. I sing his praises to anybody asking about him.

DALE: So tell us about exactly what was going on before you had come to Princeton Brain and Spine, what kind of symptoms did you experience with your trigeminal neuralgia?

PATRICK: Well there was severe pain unimaginable pain in my upper gum line. For instance, if I took an electric toothbrush and put it inside my mouth in this area, the only way I could describe it is like a lightning bolt came out of the ceiling and just became rooted on my gum. And all I could do is get the toothbrush out of my mouth. The pain was unimaginable. It was just there and it was getting worse and then I started in on pills and they had a lot of side effects.

In order to get out of this at times it was so painful that if I were to call 911 I couldn't even speak in the phone. My whole jaw was locked into place. It was not something you even wanted to imagine.

DALE: Okay, so how do you feel now that you underwent the surgery and you've received you treatment?

PATRICK: It took me a few weeks just to believe it. In the beginning I was still medicated from the anesthesia and I was still working my way down from drugs. I thought, “This thing is still laying back there and it's going to attack again.” I didn't really understand that the doctor meant exactly what he said - that when they pulled me out of the operating suite I was pain free. And there was no therapy required, no recovery time, I just had to take care of my vital signs and all that stuff.

The story I told you about the electric toothbrush is a good example because every time I brush my teeth with the mechanical brush I say a little prayer for Dr. McLaughlin and Dr. Jannetta to thank him.

TN treatment may include

  • Medication
  • Injections
  • Surgery
Dr Mark McLaughlin Trigemenal and Occipital Neuralgia

LastUpdate: 2018-01-29 08:45:29


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