The stabbing pains in Bill Attew’s face were excruciating – so severe that at times he wished he could go to sleep and never wake up. What had started as a ‘niggly’ feeling in his cheek had rapidly worsened and led to two years of intense pain. He had to stop working, phone calls were too painful to take and eventually even eating and drinking became too painful. Doctors quickly diagnosed trigeminal neuralgia – caused when a blood vessel presses on a nerve, sending the wrong messages to the brain. Consultant Mr Nik Patel said Bill’s pain had been caused by a blood vessel pressing on the trigeminal nerve. He performed an operation to decompress the nerve – easing the pressure and lessening the pain. It is estimated that 1 in 15,000 people suffer from trigeminal neuralgia.
He said the pain was probably “the worst pain imaginable”. Mr Attew said his life had been completely transformed. “I went back to see Nik Patel and told him I felt wonderful, and that’s how it has been in the nine months since.”