Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Facial Numbness

Another health problem to add to my "I feel like crap" list: facial numbness

Since Monday night, I've been experiencing numbness on my forehead, mostly around the hair line. Yesterday at work, the numbness went from my hairline across my whole forehead and down the sides of my head around my ears. My ears felt normal, but it even seemed to extend into the area below and behind my ears. My tongue felt vaguely numb. The forehead numbness has persisted since then. It's mild numbness. I can still feel sharp and cold, etc. but it kind of feels like when you get freezing at the densist and the freezing starts to come out. My skin feels fleshy and thick to my fingers, since my fingers can feel but my skin doesn't feel as sensitive. Very surreal and very troubling.

The numbness hasn't gotten worse, and it isn't one-sided. I don't have any other complaints, other than feeling vaguely spaced-out and having bad headaches the past few days. So I know it isn't a stroke. It seems content to sit there and be numb. It's obviously some numbness in one of the branches of the trigeminal nerve, that enervates the face, but why?

I'm seeing my GP on Friday to get refills of my nasal spray and birth control pill. Then on Tuesday I see my neurologist for my regular 4-month visit. I think he'll be interested and likely perplexed by the new symptoms. The balance/unsteadiness thing comes and goes, but now...a numb face. Very scary. He will probably send me for another MRI, but the last was only 9 months ago. Can things change so quick?

Makes one think of MS and all those scary neuro diseases, which would be a sick coincidence after 9 years of stand-alone headaches and neurology visits. A few years ago, in 1998 I had a whole series of weird neurological complaints. The headaches had been around a couple of years, then I had some awful bladder problems (urgency, severe frequency) which had no urological basis (after about 400 tests), and then various problems like muscle weakness, pins and needles in my hands and feet, numbness in my lips, etc. They did every imaginable test at the time but found no problem. They chalked it up to stress and anxiety over the headaches and bladder problems (which was later differentially diagnosed as interstitial cystitis, a condition that destroys the bladder wall). Eventually the neuro complaints went away and the bladder condition was treated with some experimental drugs that re-built my bladder walls.

So I'm not as terrified as I was last time these things happened, but still it's troubling.

But what's worse is that I don't want to be self-absorbed right now. My poor dear David has just been diagnosed with shingles! Shingles is the herpes zoster virus, an adult version of chickenpox. The virus sits dormant in your nerve cells after having chickenpox as a child, only to re-emerge as painful blisters as an adult. David had 2 previous episodes over the last few years, so this is his 3rd bout. He has swollen, painful blisters on his forehead that cause nerve pain in his face and ear and the anti-viral meds are making him tired. His head is aching and he gets shooting nerve pain that must be brutal. Since the immune system fights the virus, he also feels achey and flu-like.

So he needs some love and support right now, not a girlfriend with a numb head. Poor David. He gives so much and takes so little, so I feel rotten even mentioning my numb face when his forehead is paining and his head is aching. And his blisters look like they want to burst and ooze.

We make a fine pair.

Anyway, hopefully his blisters will begin to heal up since he caught it early this time, and he won't be down for weeks, as can happen to some. And I hope my neurologist says my numbness is nothing. Instead, I'm afraid he'll look worried and sign me up for several dozen tests. Then again, when stuff like this happens, you just want to know what's wrong.

I've read that numbness and such can accompany migraine, but who knows/ Let's hope that's all it is.


  1. I'm thinking of you! Let us know what you learn.

  2. oh, that doesn't sound like fun.

    It's hard in situations like this, do you want them to find something wrong, so they can fix it? but what if that something wrong isn't something very nice? But if they don't find anything, well then there's nothing that can be done.

    I wish I had something better to say.

    We are here for you if you need us!!
    (also, thanks for the nice comment on my blog the other day).

  3. terri - that's really alarming! i'm glad you're seeing doctors soon, and can ask them about it! best of luck, let us know what they decide!

  4. hey terry :) I just got back from vacation which was less than steller but it was pretty so I guess I'll live. lol
    I am currently in a wheelchair with my FA and have been since I was 21 or so athough I can still stand with assistance. FA can be inherited although mine seemed sporatic up until a cousin of mine was diagnosed too.

    I don't talk about my FA a lot on my blog because I've found the more I do the more it bothers me but every now and then it creeps in ;)I've just found that the best thing to do is leave it in God's hands and try to have a good life.

    Try not to get too concerned until you knowfor sure what's wrong. In the past I have drove myself crazy with things that turned out to be nothing.

    My grandpa had shingles in his eyes so.......yeah I feel for David :(

  5. Hi - I have the same problem in my face right now and have been very frightened by it. It came on suddenly and has stayed for almost 3 weeks now. Have you found anything out, or has it resolved? You are lucky to have a supportive partner - mine asked me to move out when he couldn't take any more of my fears regarding illnesses.

  6. Shannon10:00 am

    Numbness can be a serious adverse side effect of amitriptyline.

  7. Terri,
    I'm curious, have you seen your neuro regarding the numbness? I, too have facial numbing, but have been diagnosed with hemiplegic migraines, I lose my balance quite often, but when my face goes numb, I usually lose feeling to my affected leg as well. Of course, I have many other symptoms that go along with this type of migraine; but I was curious as to what the outcome of your visit was.

  8. Jennifer5:17 pm

    Hi Terri,

    I've never even read a blog before, let alone responded to one. I googled "numbness in the forehead, and yours was the first to come up. I've had this for over a month now. # MRI's and several blood tests later they're saying it's all in my head. Yeah NO KIDDING. I'm a 34 year old professional and had a very slight injury at work, nothing serious at all. However for the last 7 weeks the symptoms of "I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT" persist, change, and get stranger each week. Last week I was told that I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, PCOS, I've been trying to solve this puzzle and I'm making myself crazy. Did you find anything out? Please, Please respond. Thanks

    Jennifer S
    South Florida

  9. Anonymous6:05 pm

    If I were you, I would stop the birth control pill immediately. It can give you a stroke. I don't like the numbness in the head.

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