For the second year in a row, Houston’s City Hall will be lighting up teal in an effort to raise awareness for trigeminal neuralgia (TN), a chronic pain condition that causes extreme, sporadic facial pain and affects an estimated four to eight million people worldwide. Christine Smid, a patient with the Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, was able to be cured from the debilitating disorder.
“It’s not an aching pain or anything like that, but it’s a burning pain,” said Smid. “It’s terrifying and there’s nothing I could do to make it stop.”
Smid lived with the pain for four years before being referred to Dong Kim, M.D., director of MNI and professor and chair of the Vivian L. Smith Department of Neurosurgery at UTHealth Medical School.
“It’s considered one of the worst pain syndromes known to people,” said Dr. Kim. “More than half the patients will say that they considered suicide at one point or another. When the pain is that severe, patients can’t have a normal life.”
Smid underwent a microvascular decompression of the trigeminal nerve. The operation was successful and Smid now lives pain free.
“Sometimes I think about what it would be like if I still had this problem,” said Smid. “My life is back.”
A website titled Trigeminal Neuralgia and Me was created with the goal of gathering 20,000 signatures to petition the World Health Organization to add TN to its “Health Topic List.” Houston’s City Hall joins several buildings around the world on Wednesday, October 7, by lighting up teal to spread awareness.