Part of my tumor is sitting on my pons. Here’s what that little part of the brain does, according to Heathline:
The pons is a portion of the brain stem, located above the medulla oblongata and below the midbrain. Although it is small, at approximately 2.5 centimeters long, it serves several important functions. It is a bridge between various parts of the nervous system, including the cerebellum and cerebrum, which are both parts of the brain.
There are many important nerves that originate in the pons. The trigeminal nerve is responsible for feeling in the face. It also controls the muscles that are responsible for biting, chewing, and swallowing. The abducens nerve allows the eyes to look from side to side. The facial nerve controls facial expressions, and the vestibulocochlear nerve allows sound to move from the ear to the brain. All of these nerves start within the pons.
As part of the brain stem, the pons also impacts several ***automatic functions necessary for life***. A section of the lower pons stimulates and controls the intensity of breathing, and a section of the upper pons decreases the depth and frequency of breaths. The pons has also been associated with the control of sleep cycles.
All of these things have been affected; I have TN flares, am super sensitive to noise, choke on food, crooked tongue, and a droopy side to my face.
But that little bit about the autonomic functions is huge. The breathing (remember that heart stress test I had and the docs said I was just out of shape?) and the sleeping (“oh, you just need to practice better sleep hygiene”).
I have days where all I want to do is track down medical professionals who pretended I did this to myself and call them horrible, horrible names.
This is one of those days.