[This post is part of my Medical Conditions Series.]
Every other month or so, I get an episode of nerve pain that is completely separate from my testicular pain and my cluster headaches. Each episode lasts from 1-3 days. It always starts with a patch of my skin becoming extra sensitive, as if it had been sunburned or rubbed raw. Usually the patch is on my scalp or affects the trigeminal nerve; other times it will be on one of my forearms. The patch could be anywhere through (thigh, abdomen, the back of my hand) and any size (across both arms and shoulders, the entire right half of my body, just my little toe).
If it is a light episode it only lasts for one day, and never gets worse than the sensitivity. But in bad cases (most of the time), it progresses to what I call “shockies”. After the patch has been sensitive for half a day or so, the nerve (or nerves) in the patch will start randomly shocking me. It’s like the nerve is getting electrocuted. The pain is blindingly intense–about the intensity of a medium strength cluster headache–but intermittent and very short (about half of a second long or shorter). The pain can flicker off and on several times over the course of a couple of seconds. Or it can just come as single pulses once every 20 minutes or so. Or anything in-between. The nerve will shock me like this for a day or two, and then fade out so that I just have the patch of sensitive skin for a while. Then it goes away for a few months.
I don’t know what causes it, nor do I have a real diagnosis for it. I don’t have any treatments for it. But despite how painful it is, it has almost no impact on my life. The pain is so short that it is over before I can even react to it. It comes with no warning, so I can’t anticipate it. And there’s nothing I can do about it. The shockies don’t make my muscles twitch or make me flinch. It’s just BAM an electric flash of pain and then it’s gone. In the end, I just don’t worry about it and just wait for it to run its course.
The shockies are just another source of pain, a relatively light one compared to the others, that adds to the texture of my ongoing pains and living life with chronic illness. I complain about them when they come around–they increase my misery quotient and they make my other pains that much harder to deal with–but overall they’re not a big deal.