Danielle’s harrowing chronic pain journey started with one bad olive. She broke a molar on an unexpected olive pit, requiring surgery to remove the remaining fragments of tooth. The dental surgery went very poorly, with the dentist removing significant amounts of bone and even breaking into the sinus cavity. Danielle had to go see a special dentist the next day to attempt and mitigate the damage done by the first surgery. Initially hoping to have an implant installed, Danielle was dissuaded from doing so because there was so little bone remaining that the surgery would have been extremely difficult. She didn’t know that missing a tooth can cause jaw bone to degrade over time, eventually finding herself in excruciating facial pain that forced her to leave work. This was the start of a five-year long chronic pain nightmare.
In this episode of the Major Pain podcast, Danielle shares the story of how her chronic pain became so severe that she attempted to take her own life. For years she had been trying to get help for her dental pain, being juggled back and forth from doctors to dentists and back again. No one was willing to take her pain seriously or take any action, treating her like she was making everything up for attention. Danielle was so desperate to be out of pain that she attempted to overdose and drown herself, but to her shock woke up in a jail cell the next day. After enduring more pain than she ever thought possible, Danielle finally found a doctor who took one look at her and instantly validated the fact that her face was collapsing. He performed three surgeries to fortify the bone and install a dental implant, mercifully lowering Danielle’s pain level. She was also diagnosed with erythromelalgia, a rare disorder that causes episodes of burning pain in the extremities and face, and given medication that has helped reduce symptoms. After years of unbearable pain, Danielle finally feels vindicated in her knowledge that something had been wrong all along and grateful to have survived. She still deals with manageable chronic pain, but her outlook on life has been completely altered, deepening her empathy for others in crisis.
This episode contains open discussion of attempted self-harm. If you are in crisis and need support, please call the national suicide prevention lifeline at 800-273-8255.
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