With Great Mercy

Finding hope when you have trigeminal neuralgia and other types of pain

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August 3, 2010

Trigeminal neuralgia: in the valley of the shadow

Many of us have heard, read, or prayed the 23rd Psalm. The passage is often comforting to people who are struggling with pain or illness. Here's the part I like best, from verse four:  
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.

When I experienced the electrifying pain of trigeminal neuralgia, I prayed to die. And this portion of the verse had new meaning for me. I was in the shadow of death, I reasoned, because I wanted to die. Yet the pain held no sting of death, and I felt trapped. I was alive but could not live with the pain. It was the darkest valley I've known.

valleyThe "shadow of death" lurked while I wanted to die and could not.

It's not unusual for people who have trigeminal neuralgia to think about dying. They want relief from the pain, a pain so overwhelming it doesn't seem that another second of it can be tolerated. I lived in fear, fear of the pain.

People who have not experienced trigeminal neuralgia often notice that someone who has TN is depressed. Sometimes onlookers think the depression has caused the pain, but people who have TN know differently. It's the pain and the hopelessness that causes the sorrow.

Let's examine the second part of the quotation. I will fear no evil. It takes guts to have such tremendous pain, to stare it in the face and refuse to fear it. But we can do it. For thou art with me. We don't walk through our valleys alone, and in this we have our hope.

We cannot get better without hope, and if we are afraid, hope eludes us. Let's believe. Together and with the hope of our Lord, we can face fear and cling to hope.

Have you experienced fear or depression along with your pain? I'd love to hear from you.

With Great Mercy

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