A Rough Medical Patch

Terry’s Gamma Knife Procedure

October, 2022

Wow, who would’ve known how challenging the Fall would be for Terry? Here’s her story –

In early September I was on vacation celebrating my husband Allen’s birthday. We were driving from Tennessee to Kentucky to see his extended family and meet his newest granddaughter. Allen noticed a bump on my face but didn’t think anything about it before we went to dinner.

The next morning, I knew in Allen‘s eyes something was terribly wrong with my face. He looked at me and said “I think you have shingles.” I was no stranger to shingles, as I had them almost 4 years ago in September, 2018. That time it was on my back, a mild case and I had no feeling in my back so it was a relatively minor episode. But now I had terrible shingles on the left side from my hairline across my forehead and down to my eyelid. It was extremely painful for over 3 weeks. The sores during the first two weeks made me feel like a monster. The worst was my eyelid – it felt like it had a rock on it.

Just when I was looking forward to feeling (and looking) better, I experienced the worst pain I’ve ever felt. The pain went through the shingles from my forehead, around the eye, down my nose, into my cheek. I am a tough girl and normally handle my pain but this time I had to have somebody hold my hand and rub it while I was going through each excruciating episode. They lasted 5 to 6 minutes or more each time and seemed to happen every hour. This lasted three weeks until the doctors were able to figure out the right medications. Although they started with narcotics, the drugs did nothing to alleviate the neuropathic pain. Good news is there are neuropathic pain medicine out there that treats this.

In late October I met with my neurosurgeon who decided Gamma Knife radiosurgery would be best for me. This is a type of radiation therapy used to treat tumors, cancers and other abnormalities in the brain. Although it’s referred to as surgery, there isn’t any incision. Instead the doctors use a CT machine to send hundreds of tiny beams of radiation in a focused way to kill the targeted nerves. I’ll admit it was a scary experience, but my pain decreased almost immediately and I only had mild pain for 3-4 weeks after the surgery.

Moral to the story – to anyone with an auto immune disease – please talk to your physician and confirm you’re up to date with your shingles vaccine!

Tamara and Terry

Twins Coast To Coast

This was the beginning of the shingles episode.
On my way to the gamma knife treatment.
Nurse getting everything ready for the procedure.
Getting ready to go into the MRI machine to receive radiation
Dr. Pollard Radiation (Oncologist) and Dr. McCracken (Neurosurgeon) who both treated me for the trigeminal nerve procedure.
Finished with the procedure – after 41 minutes in the CT machine receiving radiation to the trigeminal nerve.
All done and pictured with the nurses and Dr. Pollard.

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