A few months ago, I visited my dentist, who is familiar with neuropathic facial pain. Near the beginning of the appointment, she introduced a student who would be assisting. As they began, I could feel my heart beating faster and my shoulders tensing as I anticipated the strike of pain from the jet of cool water. But then I heard my dentist ask the student if she was familiar with trigeminal neuralgia. Immediately, I felt a wave of reassurance wash over me. My dentist began to teach her about the symptoms and how to minimize discomfort during dental care. In that moment, I realized that this is where change takes place. It is during these moments when medical professionals are educated.
As I left my appointment with gratitude, my heart was also heavy, knowing many have not had a similar experience. I joined the FPA staff in 2020 because of my passion to reduce the suffering of others living with facial pain. One theme that jumped out at me time and time again during the 2022 FPA conference was participants asking questions such as, “How can I get my doctor to connect with FPA?” or “How can my doctor become more educated about the information being discussed?” After the conference, the FPA staff and Board of Directors discussed lessons learned and committed to increasing our efforts around educating the medical and dental communities. As I reflected on the conference and my personal experience from a month earlier, it became clear that to do so, we need to reach one by one, doctor by doctor, until everyone with facial pain is surrounded and supported by better educated healthcare professionals.
As patients, we discover early in this journey that we must become our own self advocate. This requires searching for the correct diagnosis, and finding a doctor who will partner with us to find the right balance to reduce pain and minimize side effects. Having facial pain can feel very lonely. Individually, there is only so much we can accomplish, but we are not alone. The Facial Pain Association enables us to combine our individual efforts into a collective voice. As we strive for a greater quality of life for all people with facial pain, we will accomplish more together than we ever can alone.
Every support group, every webinar, every phone call, and email of support is made available through the generosity of people like you.
Whether you suffer from facial pain or love someone who does, you can make a difference by helping us reach the medical community. FPA is committed to this work, and you can help by providing your doctor’s contact information so that we can reach out and invite them to connect with us.
Thank you for joining me in this mission,
Brandi Underwood, FPA Marketing and Communications Manager