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A Corporate Story

  

 

Suzanne N. Grenell, MBA

 

Trigeminal Neuralgia — Neuropathic Facial Pain 

Who is Suzanne Grenell?

I worked for Intel Corporation (headquartered in Santa Clara, California) for 23 years in worldwide positions.  Intel is a diverse international technology company embracing all countries and cultures, believing diverse teams and talents create better results.  Intel invented the computer chip in your computer and phone and is inside just about everything else to power technology.  Over time, technology continuously speeds up and keeps opening up new doors for constant innovation and new solutions.

 Suzanne Grenell Intel Positions Include (Examples): 

Responsible for collecting data from top customers worldwide and driving company improvements for top customer issues across all sales channels.

Helped to build the foundation of Intel's culture and values, including creating strategies and tools for constant continuous improvement within and across groups. Company values include customer orientation, results orientation, discipline, great place to work, quality, risk taking. Measured on how well we perform to values.

Created and drove "cycle time" improvement (improving speed to market from product conception to customer plus other critical "cross-function" company processes). 

Known (and formally rewarded) for being able to take a concept and make it a reality. 

During this time, I remember the specific moment I realized something was wrong with me.  I was now in my early 40s.  Suddenly out of nowhere I felt what can only be described as a very sharp “attack” on my face.  I had no idea what this was and my very long journey toward diagnosis took five painful years!  I was shuffled from doc to doc and “specialist” to “specialist” and even to my dentist but none of these docs had a clue as to what this could be.  Oh really?  I thought.

While working, I prayed and hoped that when I had to present a presentation I could talk ok.  I shouldn’t have to worry about this, should I?  But, at this time, I still had no idea what it was so I was actually gambling on whether whatever I had wouldn't throw me to floor just walking down the hall.

Also during this time, I fought breast cancer twice — once in my early 40s and then again in my late 40s.  So now here I was.  Fighting breast cancer twice along with something not yet diagnosed but extremely painful = having to deal with both at the same time.  Just wonderful.  And I still was not taking any time off from work.  Not that this was smart.

Finally Diagnosed 

After returning from an overseas business trip with now not being able to eat or talk resulted in my Dad witnessing this and then immediately taking me to the Mayo Clinic Scottsdale Arizona where I was finally diagnosed.

“Suzanne, you have Trigeminal Neuralgia.”  (Doctor)

 “I’ve never heard of it and how do you spell it?”  (Suzanne)

 What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) is the most severe pain known to a human.  It is an ancient worldwide disease which can suddenly and persistently attack people of all ages.  It is a disorder of the trigeminal nerve, our fifth and largest cranial nerve with 3 facial branches.  TN usually impacts one side of the face in one of these branches. This disorder is chaotic, unpredictable, progressive and even dangerous since it is very difficult for people with TN to function without throwing themselves on the floor.   For just one example, I could not even turn my head on a pillow while trying to sleep without setting off another vicious attack. This pain is chronic, severe, and similar to lightning bolt shocks going off randomly inside of your head.  Could you think of a worse torture?  No.

AND people with TN generally do not get any sympathy because:

“You look just fine.” (family and friends) 

“Well, this is because you can’t see inside of my head.”  (Suzanne)

This horrible disease is also called The Suicide Disease because, for some, they feel the only way they can control their pain is to kill themselves and there is a long history of people we know who have done this. Current treatment options have not changed for over 50 years and every one of these options is still only a “band aid” and not a cure.

The meds stop working (as if they ever did) and there is no med strong enough anyway to completely knock this out.  Meds cause all kinds of problems and side effects of their own.  They do work for some but not for others without changing the med over and over for years and years.

Treatment: 

At this point, I had to explore and become knowledgeable about treatment options for something I knew nothing about. I found out there are several “band aid” options available to choose from with anyone who has been formally diagnosed with classic TN.  The problem is …. as “band aids" they might work and they might not.  If they work, these procedures might last and they might not. The riskiest of these options is microvascular decompression (MVD) brain surgery.  There is a tiny blood vessel wrapped incorrectly around the trigeminal nerve and the surgeon goes into the head to find this tiny disorder and then puts something in-between the nerve and the blood vessel so they do not touch anymore.  The random touching of the nerve and the blood vessel is what causes the unbearable unpredictable pain.

I really (of course) did not want to have brain surgery — sounded risky to me.  So after being formally diagnosed I actually waited another eight years (on meds I hated which didn’t work for me anyway) hoping, hoping, hoping someone would come up with something else.  But no one did. 

So (since pain left untreated can continue to get worse) I decided on the risky approach.  With me, this could not be seen on an MRI at that time.  So I agreed with my surgeon, Dr. Richard Zimmerman (Mayo Clinic Scottsdale Arizona) to do exploratory brain surgery to see if he could find it and if he could not — "don’t damage the nerve just sew me up.”  But he found it and I woke up in intensive care and all pain was immediately gone except the 3 bolts that held my head in place during surgery were now giving me a 3 day headache.  But that’s it.  I have been pain free since 2004.  Around 13 years of total TN suffering and then God and my surgeon rescued me … but, still, this could only be temporary.   

Enter: The Facial Pain Research Foundation 

https://facingfacialpain.org

The Facial Pain Research Foundation (headquartered in Gainesville, Florida) supports scientists worldwide to research and work on innovative ideas and approaches TO FIND A CURE for Trigeminal Neuralgia and other neuropathic facial pain.

The founding Trustees in 2010 were Myron A. Hirsch, P.H.B, Roger L. Levy, Esq., LLM, AIFA®, Michael Pasternak, PhD. Michael Pasternak has been President of The Facial Pain Research Foundation since 2010.There are currently 9 foundation Trustees worldwide.  95% of money raised goes to the scientists.  Our goal is to find a cure for TN by the end of 2020.   This is a non-profit all volunteer organization with volunteers all around the world raising money to help top worldwide scientists find a cure for the most severe pain known to a human.  We are accelerating the world of pain research.

Why Did I Volunteer to be a Trustee?

We need a cure right now.  

We can’t wait or ignore this any longer.

I’m sick of seeing people suffering.

I’m sick of seeing people dying.

We’re not putting up with this anymore. 

We need leaders and I want to help.

Will you help?

We are making new startling treatment progress exploring

innovative challenging areas of focus.

Scientists are smart, running, committed.

Watch our space.

 Suzanne N. Grenell

Scottsdale, Arizona USA

  

   
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