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Camping is a huge part of the life I share with my husband, Andrew. We belong to a camping club and have traveled to nearly every state in the continental United States. Our enjoyable hobby was interrupted in June of 2019 when I developed facial/jaw pain on the left side. I consulted with my dentist and primary care physician (PCP). After X-rays, CT scans, and MRI, I was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia.
My physician prescribed medicine for my condition. I started at a low dose, and even as the dose was increased, there was no signiﬁcant pain relief. Chewing hard foods, singing, or sleeping on my left side, exacerbated the pain. I had not experienced any major health issues in my entire life, and this new diagnosis put me into a tailspin. I am a ﬁnance oﬃcer for a busy municipality and found it diﬃcult to concentrate and perform the responsibilities associated with my job. I was unable to sleep at night. Summer was approaching, and I did not feel up to doing any activities with our camping club. I became very emotional over my inability to control the pain that was consuming my life.
I decided to call ConnectCare3, a Nurse Navigation and Patient Advocacy beneﬁt oﬀered through my employer. The Nurse Navigator assigned to me suggested I seek another opinion on my condition and oﬀered to provide me options for well-credentialed neurologists at centers of excellence. I was concerned about telling my long-time PCP that I was seeking another opinion elsewhere, as I did not want to oﬀend him. My Nurse Navigator helped me understand that my PCP would welcome any additional information from a specialist with the expertise that could ultimately help me achieve some relief from the pain I was plagued with daily.
I started experiencing some adverse side eﬀects of the prescribed medication, and my pain was driving me crazy! I knew I could not continue on that medication regimen and had to do something… soon! My Nurse Navigator provided me with several well-credentialed neurologist options who subspecialize in my particular type of nerve pain. She also provided me with some helpful language to use when telling my PCP I was seeking another opinion.
As my nurse navigator had assured me, my PCP was very supportive of me seeking a second opinion, and I scheduled an appointment with one of the options provided by my ConnectCare3 Nurse Navigator. At that appointment, the neurologist reviewed my medical history and completed a physical examination. Based on his examination and detailed description of my symptoms, he discovered that the occipital nerve, not the trigeminal nerve, was the cause of my pain. He oﬀered me immediate treatment with trigger point injections to relieve the pain.
Seeing that neurologist on Nov. 25 was life-changing for me! Not only did I receive a new diagnosis, but I was also able to receive an injection to relieve the pain associated with it. Consequently, I was able to wean oﬀ my medication. Several months later, I am happy to report that I am still pain-free. I learned that stress and muscle tension could trigger this condition. Thanks to ConnectCare3, I am back to singing in the choir, enjoying eating all types of food, sleeping well, and looking forward to more camping trips. I hope my story demonstrates that receiving a second opinion from a well-credentialed specialist can signiﬁcantly impact the quality of care, as well as a person’s quality of life.