After losing a lot of weight, being in intense pain and feeling dismissed by doctors, a Pennsylvania man now knows the cause to his debilitating symptoms.
Kim Pace had to take medical leave due to an unbearable pain on the left side of his face, reports The Washington Post.
Over the course of six months in 2012, he went to several specialists to determine the cause of his pain. Some thought his pain was due to migraines, mental illness, a dental problem, a medication side effect and even an attempt to get painkillers.
“I knew the pain was real and I felt like my life was on the line and I just had to prove it to somebody,” Kim said.
Nevertheless, Kim’s wife, Carol, knew she had to go to drastic measures to get her husband the care he needed.
“I looked at Kim and it hit me: He was going to die,” she said. “I thought, ‘OK, that’s it,’ and the nurse in me took over.”
After suspecting that Kim suffered from trigeminal neuralgia, and being denied a referral to see a surgeon, his wife wrote an email to physician assistant Carol James, who was associated with the Trigeminal Neurgalia Center at Johns Hopkins. James replied quickly and sent Kim’s case to Dr. Michael Lim, an associate professor of neurosurgery.
“Trigeminal neuralgia is one of the most common facial pain syndromes in the world,” Lim explained, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s often associated or triggered by external stimuli, such as cold wind, eating, drinking or talking.”
Lim decided to perform a surgical procedure known as microvascular decompression, which involves opening the skull and inserting a small sponge to protect the nerve from pressure. Although the operation posed significant risks, such as stroke and paralysis, Kim was not dissuaded from proceeding.
"I'm a scrapper," Kim said. "When you're in that much pain, you're willing to do anything."
The operation, which took place on Aug. 10, 2012, had additional complications as two arteries compressed the profoundly scarred nerve. Nevertheless, the procedure was successful, and Kim was able to return to work six weeks later.
Kim and Carol are grateful that James and Lim were not dismissive of their concerns.
"There are people out there suffering from this who don't know they have it," Kim said. "That worries me."