"I can't even describe the pain," says Dayna Less, a St. John high school senior, who suffered indescribable headaches her entire junior year. The pain began intermittently in January 2010—and by the summer it was a constant, 24/7 agony that she couldn't get rid of no matter what she did.
Because of the pain, and the medications doctors and headache specialists prescribed unsuccessfully to relieve her misery, she says she can't believe she made it through. Although she lost a lot of friends who couldn't understand what was wrong with her because they "couldn't see it," a few friends remained loyal and got her through—academically and otherwise.
Dayna says the vicious cycle of incredible pain and powerful medication led her to withdraw, and made doctors think she was suffering from depression.
"It was just awful," says her mother, Teena Less, who spent hours and hours online searching for an answer for her daughter—who was "lost" due to pain and medicine. One day she found promising information. There was a plastic surgeon, Dr. Ivica Ducic at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., who had success using a delicate technique that relieves pressure on the sensory nerves in the head. And two operations later (the first in June 2011 and the second in December), Dayna is pain free and living a normal life.
According to Dayna, Ducic "rearranged some nerves—and had to cut through others" to bring her relief. Although she had swelling and discomfort after the operations—her mother says she looked like she was hit by a truck—she was smiling and headache free right after the doctor finished and she came to.
Teena says she has her daughter back. Dayna was recently accepted to study pre-pharmacy at Purdue in the fall. She did an internship at CVS this year which led her to that decision.
No one knows exactly how Dayna's nerves became compressed between muscle and bone in her brow and temple area. Teena suspects from her research that it may have been strenuous exercise her daughter took part in as a youngster.
What both mother and daughter want to do is get the word out: that if one suffers from inexplicable headaches, it may be caused by compressed nerves—and an operation to decompress them may provide great hope. "I'm thankful for the Internet!" Teena says.
Dayna says, "I hope that other kids who are suffering can find relief."