Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS): “Chronic burning pain in your mouth. The pain from burning mouth syndrome may affect your tongue, gums, lips, inside of your cheeks, roof of your mouth, or widespread areas of your whole mouth. The pain can be severe, as if you scalded your mouth.”-MayoClinic.com. ABC News covered it in a piece called “The Mysterious, Agonizing Pain of Burning Mouth Syndrome.”
There is no conclusively identifiable cause, no assured treatment and definitely no cure. The few research studies out there note a correlation between depression and BMS, but neglect to ask,”Which came first?”
In my case, the BMS definitely caused depression; not the other way around. Researchers suspect dental work, dense nerve tissue in “super tasters,” hormonal links, or neurological damage, but no one knows for sure.
I have been battling burning mouth since May, 2008, and after a hectic flurry of exams, specialists, tests and possible diagnoses over the first year or two, we settled on this bizarre syndrome that affects less than 1% of the population. Oh, how special!
I will not take you through the gritty details of everything I have tried; nerve blocks, GERD testing, vocal cord scoping, oh my! At this point I merely manage the pain and try to keep its effect on my life to a minimum. Most days I am fairly successful, but occasionally stress or other factors overwhelm even my best laid coping strategies and I must turn to medication. A small dose of Clonazepam (Klonipin) seems to make me drowsy and interrupts the escalating cycle of pain so that I can get through my evening. The only times I do not burn are when I eat, drink or cry.
I know I am not alone, but as those of you out there who have suffered from chronic pain know so well, sometimes it feels like it is just you and your constant companion. In fact, isolation becomes the additional thing you must battle. You have told everyone who needed to be told and there is nothing new to tell, so you stop talking much about it. When people ask how you are, you say, “Fine.”
And you move on.
I recently decided to talk to a counselor.
You see, I needed to talk to someone who would not be burdened with my pain; someone who did not feel for me personally, other than professional empathy with good boundaries.
Because I needed to vent without regard for the other person’s feelings, our future relationship, or any of those considerations that come into play when you talk to people you love, and who love you.
If you are dealing with chronic pain, whether it is physical, mental or emotional, I hope you will feel encouraged to reach out and find help and support. Sometimes your family and friends just aren’t enough, no matter how much they care.