Stacey Welsh and her family. Photo / Supplied

Stacey Welsh has given birth six times, but says the pain she feels is “a million times worse” than childbirth.

Once a “picture of health,” Stacey’s life changed overnight about a month ago when she was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic pain that affects the trigeminal nerve, located at the back of the body. skull, which carries the sensation of your face to your brain.

Stacey, who turns 34 next week, says she has been fit and healthy her entire life, with no history of migraines or even headaches, and has rarely even needed paracetamol.

Once a fitness enthusiast, busy full-time student and mother of six, she now spends her days in excruciating pain. Her life, she says, changed in a split second.

Stacey with one of her children in Wānaka where the family lives.  Photo / Supplied
Stacey with one of her children in Wānaka where the family lives. Photo / Supplied

One Tuesday last month she was sitting at home studying when she took a sip of orange juice and out of nowhere was struck by the most excruciating pain she has ever had felt.

“There was no build-up, no warning signs, no cause, no reasoning. It was literally the most spontaneous pain attack you can imagine,” she told the Herald since her birth. Wānaka house where she lives with her husband and six young children.

At first she thought she had an abscess, so she registered with a dentist – but an x-ray revealed that her teeth were all healthy. She then assumed she had a sinus infection, but no pain reliever was working to clear it up.

It didn’t take long for her GP to diagnose her with trigeminal neuralgia, a condition she had never even heard of – and which usually affects women much older than her.

“The GP put me on medication, then I came back twice that week and found myself in Queenstown hospital threatening to cut my face, that’s how bad the pain was “, she recalls.

Warm compresses lightly relieved her excruciating pain.  Photos / Supplied
Warm compresses lightly relieved her excruciating pain. Photos / Supplied

She received nerve blocking drugs which brought down the pain level, but she is still having flare-ups and is still learning what triggers them.

Due to its young age, it is rather rare among people with trigeminal neuralgia. Her life, as she knew it, has come to an end and she is desperate to find some semblance of normalcy, for herself and her family.

Stacey’s six children, aged 10 months to 14, try to help but struggle to understand what Mom is going through.

“My 6 year old boy said ‘I just want you to be a better mom’. Because it’s invisible it’s really hard for them to understand why mom can’t do normal things like have ice cream or her morning coffee. ”she says.

Chronic pain is more common in women than in men and typically affects women over 50.

Stacey is in her prime, with six young children in need of her, and studying with the goal of becoming a midwife. But now all of that has been put on hold.

Until a few weeks ago, his life was all about running with his kids, studying full time, and attending his beloved F45 sessions at the gym. Now she spends her days waiting for the next episode of crippling pain to take over, and just trying to get through the day.

“I suffer every day, but not as much as I was [before the diagnosis]. My life is on hold. I can’t wake up at night with my 10 month old daughter. My goal was to be a midwife and now it’s on hold too. I need to be operated on to continue my journey, ”she said.

Nerve blockers, while they help with pain relief, mean Stacey is constantly groggy and unbalanced, making daily chores extremely difficult.

“You cannot not be a parent to your baby,” she says.

Stacey finds it difficult to take care of her children as she suffers every day.  Photo / Supplied
Stacey finds it difficult to take care of her children as she suffers every day. Photo / Supplied

Wānaka’s mom is expected to have an MRI next week to assess her options. Trigeminal neuralgia surgery, if she can get it, costs $ 45,000 privately – a cost her one-income family of eight can’t afford.

Although the treatment for the disease is publicly funded, she chose to try to find the money to do it privately because she says the process would otherwise be much longer.

“I don’t have time on my side when I have six children. There is a process, trying the drug, waiting for an MRI … even in private, the wait for the MRI was two weeks.” , she says.

“I want and have to go back to my old life as soon as possible. My GP couldn’t tell me. [how long it would take to have it done in the public system]. And says the Christchurch surgeon has a great reputation for microvascular decompression surgery (MVD).

The local community has come together to try to help the Welsh family, and Stacey’s family, although they live in Dunedin, are also trying to help. His sister and mother both came to visit him recently to try and help with babysitting and a friend offered to take care of the daycare.

“My friends have been wonderful. The Wānaka community is absolutely amazing. I had meals delivered, vouchers … everyone helped us so much.”

A friend also started a fundraising page on Givealittle to raise money for Stacey’s life-changing surgery.

She raised over $ 27,000 in ten days but still needs an additional $ 18,000 to reach her goal without having to go into debt for the family.

What is trigeminal neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia is chronic pain that affects the trigeminal nerve (fifth cranial nerve), located at the back of the skull, one of the nerves responsible for transporting sensation from the face to the brain.

Compression of the nerve causes the wrong pain signal to be sent to the brain, resulting in sudden and severe attacks of pain similar to electric shock to the face.

Pain attacks can be triggered by certain actions or movements, such as eating, smiling, chewing, talking, or brushing your teeth. Drinking hot or cold drinks, walking outside in cold weather, and even just moving your head is enough to trigger a flare-up.

The condition is more common in women over the age of 50.

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This notice was published: 2021-06-10 03:00:28


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