You are not alone


The pain surges like electrical current through the side of my head, it's tiny knives skewering deep. It drains the mind of creativity, stills the hand that would be working, quells the desire to be upright and participating in this family. I curl up in the dark and relative quiet of my room, stuff earplugs in to muffle the residual sounds, close my eyes shut and pray for sleep, the ending to this long, hard day filled with suffering.


Such a tiny organ, your ear. I feel all kinds of foolish when I walk in the ER doors and ask for an injection to stop the pain in my ear, of all places. But there, in the middle ear, is one of those places He wove together in silent, the meeting of several of your cranial nerves:

  • Olfactory nerve: controls sense of smell and taste
  • Optic nerve: responsible for vision
  • Oculomotor nerve: controls pupil constriction
  • Trochlear nerve: eye movement
  • Trigeminal nerve: sensation of chewing, moving mouth, pain/touch in the face
  • Abducens nerve: eye movement
  • Facial nerve: taste/smell sensation; coordination of swallowing; sense of touch on face
  • Vestibulocochlear nerve: balance
  • Glossopharyngeal nerve: swallowing, chewing, tasting
  • Vagus nerve: controls heart, lungs, and digestion
  • Hypoglossal nerve: controls tongue movement
All these nerves pass through or in close proximity to the inner ear. Right now, my trigeminal nerve, facial nerve, and vestibulocochlear nerve are all out of whack. It is no wonder I'd like to spend my days squeezing my head and squinting my eyes closed. It is a rare complication of intratympanic (inner ear) medication injections when the nerves are irritated or accidentally poked by the needle being used to inject the medication. While the medical literature is rife with articles touting the benefits of the inner ear injections, a few small studies have looked at pain during and after the injections. One small study of less than 100 people found that 45 patients reported severe or "debilitating" pain that lasted for up to 6 weeks post-injection. Of these 45 people, all had received dexamethasone (the med I was given). The placebo group and the group receiving antibiotic injections reported no pain, not in a single person.

I breathe a sigh of relief. At least I am not alone. And at least I am 3 weeks into a 6 week course of pain.

I, of course, would appreciate your prayers for my ability to function well as wife, mom and student, and also that the pain would quickly subside.

Joys collected:
*Mama movie night on Friday
*Children's voices lilting happy through the headache
*Dishes done, over and over
*Sun streaming through windows on a Monday morning