In 2010 while attending school on a hockey scholarship in Lake Placid, NY, I began experiencing a lot of facial and head pain. Most of my pain was concentrated around the bottom right side of my jaw, effecting the right side of my head. The pain consisted of excruciating stabbing shocks lasting roughly a minute. At first they would only happen at night, but as the days went by the intensity and duration worsened. I first went to a dentist since most of the pain seemed to surround my teeth, but he was not able to tell me why I was experiencing pain nor could he do anything to help me. I saw multiple doctors in hopes someone could tell me what I was suffering from but my only option seemed to be medication to alleviate some of the pain.
One morning I woke up with unbearable stabbing pain which was suddenly constant instead of only lasting for a minute at a time. I was admitted into the Emergency Room where I was given heavy pain medications, though these only gave me minutes of relief before the unbearable pain returned. My parents flew up from Florida and that is when they realized this was worse than they had imagined. I had CAT scans and MRIs which all came back clean. Different doctors came in and out of my room; they all seemed confused and did not say very much to us. Finally one doctor came in and handed a piece of paper to my mom stating they had diagnosed me with Trigeminal Neuralgia. My parents and I had no idea what this disease was nor how to pronounce it. The doctors on staff were not very knowledgeable about my condition either but advised us to see a neurologist.
The next day we flew home and immediately saw a neurologist. We learned that Trigeminal Neuralgia is damage to the trigeminal nerve; it is nicknamed “the suicide disease” as even the slightest movement of the facial muscles can cause excruciating pain, depending on the case. He also informed us that extreme temperature changes exacerbated the pain, making playing hockey again out of the question. We were told that our options were either brain surgery or heavy medication for the rest of my life. The surgery would not only possibly include an injection of a heavy dose of radiation, but there was a high chance that the surgery would cause permanent numbness and loss of complete muscle function and treatment may not even be a permanent solution. We chose medication which helped the pain subside, but due to the extreme side effects, the higher I went in dosage the more disabled I became. It got to a point where I was so delirious due to the medication that I could no longer function, had to drop out of school, and could do nothing but sleep. My dreams of being a hockey player, song writer and a happy healthy teenager were robbed from me.
My mom refused to accept this as my fate and began researching alternative therapies for Trigeminal Neuralgia. After long days and longer nights crying at her computer she finally came across Laser Therapy. The only laser clinic within driving distance at the time was located in South Carolina. Though my parents and I were skeptical, we agreed all other options we had been presented with did not allow me any hope of ever living life as a normal functioning person again, so we packed up the car and drove 12 hours to South Carolina the very next day.
I began treatment within hours of arriving; I received 2 treatments a day for 2 weeks, totaling 28 treatments. As the therapeutic treatments of warm light continued, the pain began to subside more and more each day. It was almost too good to be true! Once I finished my protocol, my pain had subsided enough to allow me to cut back on my medication. The laser continues to work for weeks following the last treatment, so a month after completing treatment I was off all my medication with minimal pain and was finally able to function like a normal teenager again. 2 months after completing treatment I was able to be entirely medication and pain free, allowing me to return to school in Lake Placid to pursue my hockey dreams.
My friends and family were beyond amazed and excited by my recovery, though no one more so than my mom. She was so excited at the speedy and radical recovery Laser Therapy had on me that she told everyone she knew about how amazing Laser Therapy truly is and took it upon herself to become a spokesperson for Trigeminal Neuralgia for three years. Simply spreading knowledge about options for those suffering from Trigeminal Neuralgia was not enough; she was so inspired that she felt obligated to open up her own practice in order to help provide relief to others suffering from pain.
Today, 2015, my mom is the Clinical Director and Founder of Carmen Care Advanced Laser Therapy. We have three locations-Boca Raton, Plantation and Aventura. After receiving my Certified Nurse’s Assistant degree and becoming trained in Laser Therapy I am now the head laser therapist at our Boca Raton location. My mom and I built this business together to help people who are suffering from any chronic or acute conditions. I cannot thank her enough for never giving up on me and for dedicating her life to helping those in pain find relief; her unconditional love, generosity and drive are an inspiration!