Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

December 12, 2021

Living life to the fullest, pain-free

By SharingMayoClinic

"I’m Maria Coffaro, I’m 28, live in Colorado, and spend my time traveling, trying new restaurants, and doing anything and everything outdoors. At 27, I was diagnosed with #TrigeminalNeuralgia — a disease that primarily affects women over 50.

In July 2019 I experienced a shocking pain in the right side of my face that continued off and on for about two months and then went away completely for 11 months.

In June of 2020 the shocks came back so severe that medicines alone (a combination of anti-convulsants, nerve blockers, etc.) were not working, which led me to neurosurgery at Mayo Clinic.

On the worst days of the 6 months that Trigeminal Neuralgia ruled my life, I wasn’t able to smile, laugh, eat, wash my face, or do anything that involved facial movement without excruciating electric-shock like pain. I wasn’t able to be myself which took a huge toll on my mental health.

Trigeminal Neuralgia is such a rare and complicated disease that I knew it would take an expert to tackle this disease with me. I read about the non-conventional approach Dr. Richard Zimmerman takes in surgery (i.e. doesn’t use Teflon, as is the norm) and the idea of no foreign objects in my head sold me on seeking care with him at Mayo Clinic.

While it was undoubtedly the toughest time of my life, my experience at Mayo Clinic was such that if I ever were to have a serious surgery again, I would have no hesitations returning to Mayo under Dr. Zimmerman’s care.

Following surgery, my well-being—both physical and mental—did a complete 180. Where there once was immeasurable pain when I smiled, laughed, ate, or moved my face in general, there is now zero pain and instead gratitude and hope for a future that continues to be pain free."

Tags: Dr. Richard Zimmerman, Maria Coffaro, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Neurosurgery, sharing mayo clinic, Trigeminal Neuralgia

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