“Every day I wake up, say my prayers and think, ‘It’s another good day.”
Kathleen McGetrick spent the better part of a decade in pain, taking heavy medication in an attempt to numb the pain of trigeminal neuralgia. The condition affects the trigeminal nerve — the largest in the head — and Kathleen and everyone around her knew when she had forgotten to take those medications. “When she was in pain, I could tell,” says Kathleen’s husband of 37 years, Douglas. “Her face would grimace, and there was nothing I could do for her. It was very tough to see her go through that.”
The medications to keep the stabbing facial pain in check were costly — not just financially, but physically, too. Friends noticed her staggering, unbalanced way of walking. “The medication takes away the pain, but it takes away other things, too,” Kathleen says. Her condition prompted an early retirement from her job as a law office secretary.
As Kathleen realized, taking a pill was a remedy, but it wasn’t a solution.
Still, Kathleen was nervous about treatment. “I knew what I had,” she says, “but I didn’t know what the outcome would be after treatment. Would things get worse?” Her fears were quickly eased after meeting with Anthony D’Ambrosio, M.D., a neurosurgeon and Co-Director of the Gamma Knife Center. He laid out, step by step, what her procedure would entail and the expected results. From that moment, she was fully on board.
Pain Relief in a Single Session
In a single outpatient treatment session lasting about 45 minutes, doctors aimed beams of radiation at Kathleen’s trigeminal nerve, destroying its ability to transmit pain signals while preserving the healthy tissue around it. In the months following the procedure, she was slowly weaned off her medications to ensure she wouldn’t experience side effects.
Kathleen’s successful treatment and the Gamma Knife Center’s supportive staff especially impressed her husband.
“To see her pain-free is such a relief,” Douglas says. “They did exactly what they said they would do.” The 77-year-old has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which prevented him from traveling with his wife to her appointments and treatment session.
He says the Gamma Knife Center team was so supportive, calling him and keeping him in the loop with updates about his wife’s progress and making monthly follow-up calls to check on her. “I feel like I have a relationship with them, and I’ve never met them,” Douglas says. “I look forward to their calls.”
Six months after her Gamma Knife treatment, Kathleen is amazed that she’s free of pain and no longer takes any medication for the condition that once plagued her. “Every day I wake up, say my prayers and think, ‘It’s another good day,’” she says.
“My first impression during that initial visit was that I was in the hands of doctors and nurses who really know what they’re doing,” she says. “I felt so relieved and safe.”
* This procedure may not be suitable for every patient. All patients must be evaluated by a physician as to the appropriateness of performing the procedure. The above testimonial represents the individual's response and reaction to the procedure; however, no medical procedure is risk-free. Associated potential risks and complications should be discussed with the physician rendering this procedure.