Update on My Emergency Surgery

and how you can help



The Video

The Story

Sometimes life pulls the rug right out from under you. My family is experiencing one of those moments and instead of helping, as I should be doing, I have managed to create the perfect storm of a problem. If we hadn’t exhausted all other means, I wouldn’t be creating a crowd-sourcing campaign for MYSELF. I know these things are usually handled by a family member or a friend–but again, I feel like this is MY mess to clean up.  I know it is not my fault, but the heart sometimes is shielded to the wisdom of the mind.

I am doing this because I love my family and I do not want to burden them with this.

The situation:

I live with Robbie (pictured), our 14-year-old daughter, and my adult son (who works, manages his own finances, and pays us a small weekly rent.)
My boyfriend is the sole provider for our household bills. I am not working due to chronic health issues.

Robbie has lost his job suddenly (his company, without warning, closed its doors) and 2 days later I find out that I need emergency surgery.

After a pain flare-up three weeks ago landed me in Duke University for tests and an overnight stay, we have utilized every charitable program we can find to try to get answers. The pain is in my face, jaw, and head. There have been problems with numbness in my lip and chin, lip drooping on one side, embarrassing drooling on that side, and slurring of my speech. They called a Stroke Code as soon as I arrived at Duke.
I had intermittent seizures on one side of my face for approximately 48 hours until the stay at Duke, where anti-inflammatory shots were given bringing the pain level down and therefore bringing the blood pressure down from the ceiling, and the seizures slowly dissipated. 
The nerve pain has been up the back of my head with lightning fingers of pain across my scalp. Another nerve area on my cheek spreads across my cheekbone and chin. Another behind my ear. The bones in my face ache something terrible–but with all this pain there are no pain management options for me. I take medication already for nerve pain so the doctor raised that again but no additional pain-managing medications were given at any of the doctor visits.

In the difficult financial position, we are in, we spent half the rent for me to see the dentist–hoping that he would shed light on the situation.

He did. The dentist explained to me this:

I have two impacted wisdom teeth, one on either side of my face and both are sitting directly on a nerve going to my chin — this explains the facial drooping, the numbness in my lip, and the difficulty at times for my mouth to move properly when I am speaking (hence part of the stroke concerns previously.) 

It also possibly explains the nerve pain flare-ups in my head and the facial seizures.

I also have an infection in a back tooth and this is a big problem — the infection is not draining outward, but pooling back behind the impacted tooth and into my jawbone (and eventually into other areas of my head). 

I need emergency surgery to remove all three teeth. This is what my dentist said to me after a drastic exclamation at the x-ray imagery, composed and alarmed he explained:

“I have never seen anything like this before in my career.”
“It is no wonder you have been in terrible pain.”
“The nerve damage in your face may be permanent at this point.”
“You cannot wait.”
“This could end your life.”

So, at a point in our family where the income has been reduced to nearly nothing, I need emergency surgery–and soon.

My consultation with the dental surgeon is on June 4th. We will know a precise amount for the surgery then, but my dentist said it will be 2500 or 3000. I am asking 3000 because even if the surgery is less than that, our family could use the extra to help with bills during this difficult time.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with ortho on another matter and may also need neck surgery–this will be (mostly) covered by the Charity Care program, but dental surgery is not covered under this program.

I know there are kind people out there who wholeheartedly care about the pain of others. I do not want anyone to be burdened by giving. Only give if you are able to do so without putting yourself into a financial strain.

I thank you for reading and for your empathy–prayers welcome but please no pity. This is just another hurdle for us to leap and God cares for even the sparrow, so I know He watches me. Take care.

(To be clear, no medical or dental insurance, we were denied the dental credit card and denied a personal loan we tried to get, and because we are not married and my adult son lives here–they take his income into consideration–I get denied for Medicaid.)

A note on Robbie: This is a man who would do anything for anyone–ask anyone that knows him. The only thing worse than my pain is watching the stress and anguish it causes him. He is frantically trying to solve this problem and I want to ease his burden somehow.


The Update:

Surgery is scheduled for June 13. For those of you who missed the Facebook update: The dental surgeon is less concerned about infection as he is with the structural issues regarding the surgery itself. Apparently, there is little jawbone in the area to work with. When the two teeth are removed, part of the jawbone will also need to be removed, leaving a very thin area of jawbone left. This means that fracture of my jawbone is possible, maybe even likely. This will mean I may need to follow-up at the hospital for surgery to put a plate in my jaw. I have coverage through the Charity Care program at my local hospital so I hope that financially that will not be a problem. Although, I do not know what this means for a “pain forecast.” Another issue is the nerve. Both teeth sit directly on the nerve. I am told that removing the teeth “may not improve the nerve pain” in my face and that permanent nerve damage and/or numbness in my face is a possible maybe even a likely outcome. Again, I do not know what this means for a “pain forecast.” All of this is disheartening and has me very anxious but your prayers, messages of support, and your giving are life-changing and sustaining to me in this difficult time. I cannot thank you enough. It is humbling.

Help spread the word!

A Difficult Tell-All

This could kill you–words you don’t want to hear from your doctor.

Photo by Milan Popovic on Unsplash

There are no rules in writing. And there are no closets to hide in when it comes to “over-sharing.”

Where do you draw the line? For me, I draw the line at exposing my family members’ and friends’ stories in a way that is disrespectful of their privacy.

But for myself — all bets are off.

I haven’t always felt this way but as I strive more and more to live in my truth,it becomes harder to not disclose the difficult, the embarrassing, the truly raw and personal.

Which is why, of late, I have been more open about my health struggles. Other Medium writers have inspired me to be more truthful about this part of my life.

So, in the spirit of vulnerability, I’d like to share, without apology or pity-seeking intent, today — I am in pain. Considerable pain. Earlier today it was laying-on-your-face-on-the-couch-and-sobbing kind of pain.

And because I write, because that is what I do…here I am.

Nerve pain is no joke.

It is a raging beast that seizes you and has its way with you. There is no fighting it. You lose. Very few medications will even touch it, aside from opioids (which are not prescribed anymore here due to the opioid crisis) and some medications such as Lyrica (which I am allergic to) and a few other medications such as Neurontin, which is not a pain medication, but a medicine that helps calm the nerves.

You can take all the Tylenol you want — nothing. I already take an anti-inflammatory daily so Ibuprofen is off the table. Do NOT Ice nerve pain! Unless you want the lightning show to be ICE-LIGHTNING pain.

I take a very substantial amount of Neurontin to treat my chronic pain and nerve pain. 1800 mg per day. This is also an anti-seizure medication often used for people suffering from epilepsy. This has caused me significant weight-gain, but it is the most effective treatment available to me.

So the fact that I am having horrific nerve pain, and have in conjunction had facial seizures, in spite of all the Neurontin and anti-inflammatory I am on, then I guess that says this tooth thing is serious.

For those of you that haven’t read my post explaining the situation, you can catch up here.

I saw the orthopedic doctor yesterday and was very pleased to hear that I do not need neck surgery to deal with the disc issue and bone spurs in my neck. This is the first good news we’ve had all week! But the doctor did say that she believes I am suffering from some type of pain disorder and gave me a referral to a pain clinic. She recommended CBD oil treatments as well.

Given my body’s response to pain (inflammatory, exponential, difficult to manage) the current dental nightmare that I am in is even more unbearable.

I need emergency surgery to remove three teeth, two impacted wisdom teeth that are sitting on the nerves causing Trigeminal neuralgia, and an infected tooth feeding infection in and around one of the wisdom teeth. 

PLEASE READ THIS–THIS IS HOW YOU CAN HELP: https://www.gofundme.com/manage/nzw54u-emergency-surgery-needed/donations

The occipital nerve is also part of the problem even though it is on the back of my head— because for me and whatever pain disorder or condition I have when one nerve gets inflamed — it invites its nearby friends to the party.

Facial Pain, Trigeminal Neuralgia
Facial pain info, trigeminal neuralgia is an inflammation of the trigeminal nerve causing extreme pain and muscle…mayfieldclinic.com

This is what my dentist said to me after a drastic exclamation at the x-ray imagery; composed and alarmed he explained:

  • I have never seen anything like this before in my career.
  • It is no wonder you have been in terrible pain.
  • The nerve damage in your face may be permanent at this point.
  • You cannot wait.
  • This could end your life.

So, there it is. Full disclosure. I guess I should point out that 2 days prior to the dental appointment my boyfriend lost his job.

Aside from what I make on Medium (and 8 weeks in, that’s not a super whole lot yet) he is my only source of income.

The tears in my house the last few days have been many. There have been intimate moments of shared fear and worry, and my current medical situation has done nothing to alleviate our worries.

Yes, I’m whining here. And that is ok. I am grateful to have this thing — this writing thing — as an outlet. Perhaps someone out there in the world of words is reading this and thinking — I AM NOT ALONE. (I see you, by the way. I get you. You are ok.)

Pain teaches you empathy. It is a costly lesson.

After the recent ER visits (x4 in 6 days!) and doctor visits, a stay in the hospital, and the last 2 weeks of intermittent nerve pain through my face, I sit here grateful for my dentist. He wrote me a pain prescription (the first one I have had in nearly 3 years), he empathized with my pain, and he showed true concern over my health.

I know you are hurting. And I am sorry. — memorize these words. This is what you say to someone who is hurting.

If someone tells you they are in pain, do not look at them suspiciously. Pain is sometimes invisible. That does not mean it isn’t there!

So, as I wait nervously for my June 4th surgical consult, and work to “raise” the money for the surgery, I will write when I can. I will keep trying. I will get up, show up, and do the best I can. That’s the plan. And when the pain is too much, I will bear that as bravely as possible.

Nerve pain is a beast. it does not care who you are or how tough you are — it wins. –Christina

Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. Lance Armstrong

Expect there to be some poetry over the next few weeks that may be a bit more “deep and dramatic” than my whimsical faeries-on-swings, happy singing moon stuff 😉 

It’s ok — pain is a great creative catalyst.

Thank you all for reading. It is of great comfort.

Support Groups – The ACPA
Back to About Us main page. You can start an ACPA group. ACPA groups welcome anyone who is living with an ongoing pain…www.theacpa.org

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Don’t Miss Updates on Christina’s Poetry and Book Releases!

Sorrow, A Poem of Mystery that will leave you wanting more…


Skipping stone bouncing across your surface
A tearing pain no one can see
You scream out toward the distance
Stretching out from between your knees

Why can’t anyone hear the baby crying?
Standing red-faced, hands over rail
Knuckles gone white from gripping
One long, steep unending wail

She wasn’t there the night before
Out tramping through the woods alone
She can’t hear the baby anymore
Out searching for stepping stones.

One last argument bent her backwards
One last tearing apart of her nails
One last long sorrow will be hers
When the baby falls over the rail.

I hope you have enjoyed this, my newest poem “Sorrow,” which I wrote while the bath water was running…because sometimes, you just have to POEM. 🙂 Weird too, because I rarely rhyme in my poetry. Well, the poem tells me, I don’t tell it how to be. One thing I love about writing is that I never know where it is leading me. I am along for the journey and I love that.

If you enjoyed this….you may also like:

Broken, A Poem for The Broken-Hearted

Oh, we have all been there. That place where brokenness, a roadblock, lies firmly between us and the we that we know we will eventually be, if it weren’t for the mess that we are. We stare into the mirror, not recognizing the tear-streaked skin, the dark circles under our eyes, the fact that breathing seems, well to be impossibly continuing…

I am talking about heartbreak. We have all experienced it. And, as we know. It DOES GET BETTER. We find a way to breathe again. To eat again. To make it through a night of sleep, rather peacefully, though it takes time. I’ve experienced my fair share of brokenness and sometimes, I write. It’s usually not my best work, but I earned it. So, with that, I share…


The seasons of several are
crashing down around me,
a hard steady rain I did not expect.

The mirror is splintered
tiny silver fragments scattering,
my thoughts scatter with them.

I looked into your face and knew…
you have the power
to destroy me.

I don’t need you to do it for me.

The seasons of several
crashing down around me,
a hard steady pain I did not expect.

If you are going through something truly terrible right now…know that after the night, always comes a bright, burning sunrise, and with it, promises anew.

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