The last time I saw a Star Trek movie for the first time on opening weekend, it was 1998 for "Star Trek: Insurrection."
Ian Cullen, someone I have known since our days chatting in the Star Trek area of AOL, had made the trip from England to Orlando, and I was taking both him and his mom to see the film in a suburb of Tampa.
Sure, there's only been three movies since then, so it's probably not that major of a feat. But I've attended previews of "Star Trek: Nemesis," the 2009 "Star Trek" and its sequel, "Star Trek: Into Darkness." I was even invited to a preview of "Star Trek: Beyond," but unfortunately I'm currently, should I say, geographically disadvantaged.
For the past year, I've been living in the amazing island nation of Grenada. We are in the southernmost part of the Caribbean Sea, and really as far south as you can get in North America before you cross into South America.
This is the same island that President Ronald Reagan invaded in 1984, an action that maybe half the island celebrates on a holiday known as Thanksgiving here (while the other half just ignores it).
I decided to take a break from my day job as a print journalist to spend two years here to help someone I care about deeply get through medical school.
If you've never been to Grenada, you really have to come. Seriously, it's paradise. The people are wonderful. The beaches are great (I don't go to them that much), and it's very inexpensive. For example, I went to the movies Friday night to see "Star Trek: Beyond." I had my own 3-D glasses (you buy them once, and then just keep them), and even got a large soda and some Skittles. Total cost was about $35 in East Caribbean Dollars, the currency here. That translates to $12.96 U.S. Yeah, I got to see a 3-D movie, with a large Coke and Skittles for less than what I'm sure you paid for just your ticket to get into the theater.
I was excited about "Beyond." The reviews looked good, and I've always like Simon Pegg as a writer. Sadly, I have to go back and see the film again. I had a massive pain attack in my face about a third of the way in. And even though I was a trooper and stuck it out through the beginning of the ending credits, I can say that there is probably a lot that I missed because of the pain I was experiencing.
In fact, I ended up in the local hospital that night where it took a shot of Vicodin just to calm it down.
I was recently diagnosed with a condition called trigeminal neuralgia. Chances are, you've never heard of it. Hell, I never heard of it until the doctor told me that what I had been suffering from was not a sinus infection.
I actually first suffered from this about six years ago. I spent months in severe pain, thinking that it was sinus polyps and a series of infections. The pain would go up and down, making me believe that sometimes the pain medication I was taking was working, and sometimes it wasn't. There were times it felt like someone was just stabbing me in the face with an ice pick.
It was always on the left side of my face, and it would start on the left side of my nose, pretty much where you would expect your sinuses to be. It would then start to spread toward my ear, my upper jaw (it would feel like all my teeth were in pain), and even to the top of my head, in the same area I had shingles when I was 21.
The pain returned a couple weeks ago, and I was taking everything I could get my hands on. Codeine, for example, is over-the-counter here in Grenada, and so I was taking as much as the instruction on the package would let me. But nothing seemed to work.
We feared I would have to return to the United States, but a doctor at the university clinic recognized the symptoms, and felt that I would feel a lot better if I switched over to a medication typically used by those with epilepsy and bi-polar disorders. It's called carbamazepine, and so far, has been working for the most part.
But not 100 percent of the time. Friday night was an example of it (although I was still ramping up dosage, and not at the full 400 mg).
Why do I bring up this condition in an opinion piece on a Star Trek news site? Because it's important that more people learn about this condition.
It's considered one of the most painful conditions you can get. Flare-ups can last weeks, or even months, with the hope that remission last for years (like my last remission). The condition can put a severe strain on relationships — whether they are your partner in life, or just friends — and especially work. The pain is extremely debilitating. At its height, all I could do is lay on the bed, and literally cry out in pain for hours, which seemed like days to me.
It also goes undiagnosed in many people, primarily because it's misdiagnosed, like mine was for years. I saw several doctors during these pain episodes, and I got lucky to get one who recognized the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia.
The worst part is, there is no cure. And it's progressive. I hope to see a neurologist as soon as I can (most likely back in the United States) to develop a long-term treatment program, and hope that remains effective for a long time. Otherwise, I have to turn to surgery. And let's just say those options are not very enticing.
While trigeminal neuralgia is not very common, if you encounter someone with this, please understand that you most likely won't understand the pain level they are experiencing. While their reaction might seem melodramatic, or even as a way to get out of doing work, that's not what they are doing at all.
Trust me, I wouldn't wish this even on Hitler. You never want it. There might not be a lot you can do to help someone who is suffering from a flare-up of trigeminal neuralgia, the best thing you can do is be supportive during and after an attack.
It really means the world.
And "Star Trek: Beyond"? I can't wait to see it again. I really liked what I remembered. With this and "Star Trek: Discovery" on the way, it's a great time to be a Trekker.