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Painful headaches lead to rare diagnosis for Colonial Heights teen: 'It's terrible'

Posted at 11:15 AM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 11:15:30-05

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- At just 14 years old, Cole Cannon has already dealt with a lifetime's worth of pain. After suffering from debilitating headaches, doctors diagnosed the Colonial Heights teen with trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic pain condition that impacts the nerves in the head and face.

"I kept getting these shocks in my head," Cole said about the pain he felt. "Sometimes it would feel like a knife, a hot knife into my head. It's terrible."

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"Cole is one of 47 children that have it in the United States," Cole's mother Cary Mitchell said.

Ever since he was diagnosed last summer, Cole's world changed.

"I basically live off my medicine," Cole said. "I take like 130 pills a week. I have four alarms a day on my phone to get medicine and it's terrible."

Cole is hopeful a scheduled brain surgery will help.

"I'm just not afraid," he said. "I'm just excited to get off this medicine and get the relief."

While the surgery, during which doctors will remove an artery from Cole's brain, could provide that relief -- it is not a cure.

"There's no cure," his mom said. "What he'll go through in a few weeks, he'll have to repeat probably sometime in his life."

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Cary Mitchell has found a Facebook group of parents dealing with similar issues.

She has leaned on those group members to help her with doctors' appointments and prepare for Cole's upcoming surgery.