Washington man copes with trigeminal neuralgia

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WASHINGTON, Iowa (KCRG TV9)-- A man in the town of Washington says it's a challenge for him to go out in daylight or even listen to music.

And he says it's all because of chronic pain from a rare disease.

June 28th, 2011 is a day that forever changed Howard Techau's life.

"I was at work and I just had this pain in my head."

A feeling he describes as:

"Stakes being drive home in the top of my head and my ear and my eye."

In shock, Techau left work.

"I tried to drive home and I don't remember the drive home except I almost hit a car head on."

Techau says he passed out as soon as he got home.

"The MRI's didn't show anything and I did a CT scan too to see if there's any physical damage which there wasn't."

Nearly a year later, and after a slew of medications, Techau says doctors at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, diagnosed him with trigeminal neuralgia, or TN.

Mayo staff say the disease is triggered by a disruption in one of the core brain nerves.

"I basically had shingles inside the brain."

Since his diagnosis, Techau says he's involved in a number of therapies.

"I had a hard time with talking, brushing my teeth, eating without going into severe flair."

He also recently had surgery to install a neurostimulator, which helps him control most of his pain.

Now that his symptoms are manageable, Techau says he wants to raise awareness about TN.

"There's a lot of loneliness with this disease people just shun you."

And for others to understand why his behavior has changed over the past five years.

"If I would have came out here with all the brightness and stuff I wouldn't be able to stand, I would have to go inside."

Techau is encouraging everyone to wear teal this Friday to observe international TN awareness day.