Now and then, an extraordinary person rises to the occasion and shakes up the status quo. C-Suite Solutionists T’Mil Curtis is that woman. An innovator who leads to the beat of her own drum and is always ten steps ahead has faced many hurdles in life.
One challenge she’s handling gracefully is chronic pain. To be exact, trigeminal neuralgia (TN). A sudden, severe facial pain often described as a sharp shooting pain or electric shock in the jaw, teeth, or gums.
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 150,000 people are diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia every year.
The pain happens in short, unpredictable attacks and can last for days, weeks, or months at a time. However, it’s possible for the pain to improve or even disappear altogether for several months or years at a time known as a period of remission.
Curtis has never met a challenge she couldn’t handle. So, when Houston, Texas-based VGNBAE Music Group—a multi-genre label and the brainchild of two multi-talented creatives, Anthony Hall, and Dominique Side—approached her to become the general manager of their label and multi-media complex, she was up for the task.
Granted, she had to make room on her plate as if her skill set wasn’t complete enough already — a well-rounded expert in the areas of marketing, coaching, ministry, public speaking, event production, and promotion—who has achieved a high level of success within her respective fields.
The invitation was too enticing to turn down. Her hyper creative personality and the desire and skills to play in multiple creative sandboxes kicked in.
“E.E. Cummings once said, ‘it takes courage to grow up and become who you really are,’ says Curtis. “Accepting the role as general manager allows me the space to show how someone who grew up in and around the music industry, can marry experience with innovation.”
An assignment that aligns with her skills, Curtis will manage and oversee the growth and developing structure of the label and will assume responsibilities on January 2, 2023.
“I’ve always had a desire to help artists and producers, so every step I’ve taken throughout my career feels right.”
Curtis has achieved success and gained a following in multiple fields based on her platform, advice, and leadership skills. You may wonder how she’s functioned so long with TN. It wasn’t always like this. Her doctor diagnosed her with the disease 14 years ago while working her dream job.
It became clear that a pivot was needed if she would survive. But pivots can suffer drawbacks if they’re not correctly mastered. Determined to get her life back, with much prayer and creative wheels spinning, she accepted this life-hiccup—what some would call a “setback”—as a blessing and seized the opportunity to launch her entrepreneurial journey.
“This forced me to become an entrepreneur in order to have some kind of life,” she explains. “Some years, I barely pulled it off while other times, I lost everything.”
Throughout her journey, she has put in the time, developed the expertise, and earned the experience to be a creative thought leader who offers knowledge to help others achieve beyond their limits. However, when TN rears its ugly head, all bets are off. She has no choice but to shut everything down. Giving her time to rest and refuel.
“Being misunderstood and mislabeled was the biggest part of mental challenges which dealing with the ‘suicide disease’ only adding stress. I knew people looked at me as if I was lazy when the reality was, I was in pain and couldn’t function,” she explains.
TN is often called the “suicide disease” because of the intense pain, higher rates of suicidal ideation in patients with severe migraines, and links to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.
In recent studies, scientists found that women are more likely to suffer from chronic pain–70% of people with chronic pain issues are women–but they also feel pain more often, for longer periods, in more areas, and even more intensely.
A seasoned C-Suite Solutionist to the core, Curtis has yet to rise to the heights of her profession. However, she says it doesn’t matter what room her gifts make for her because the title that brings her the most honor is ‘servant’. “At the heart of every endeavor is the desire to serve and see people win!”
An advocate for education and a recipient of a dual master’s degree in Education and Pastoral Counseling, Curtis is a trigeminal neuralgia warrior, and an advocate educating others about the chronic pain disease.
“Having trigeminal neuralgia doesn’t mean that you’re destined to a life of pain.” She teaches and speaks about trigeminal neuralgia and symptoms so that others will know if what to look for and if they should see a doctor. Symptoms include one or more of these patterns:
· Episodes of severe, shooting or jabbing pain that may feel like an electric shock
· Spontaneous attacks of pain or attacks triggered by things such as touching the face, chewing, speaking, or brushing teeth
· Attacks of pain lasting from a few seconds to several minutes
· Pain that occurs with facial spasms
· Bouts of multiple attacks lasting days, weeks, months or longer — some people have periods when they experience no pain
· Pain in areas supplied by the trigeminal nerve, including the cheek, jaw, teeth, gums, lips, or less often the eye and forehead
· Pain affecting one side of the face at a time
· Pain focused in one spot or spread in a wider pattern
· Pain rarely occurring at night while sleeping
· Attacks that become more frequent and intense over time
Curtis says, “If you experience facial pain, mostly continued or repeated pain, or pain unrelieved by over-the-counter pain relievers, see your doctor.”
Aside from the business and ministry roles, she is a simple, yet complexed personality. She loves everything pink, makeup and stilettos, and everything else about being a woman. She is a proud nerd, an unapologetic lover of all genres of music from classical, to jazz, to gospel, to country.
The path to enduring success is rarely a straight line and the concept of living well while living with chronic pain sounds impossible. However, Curtis is proof that you can thrive despite chronic pain. She is intentional about living well with chronic pain. And realizes it is about managing pain and finding ways to live a happy, fulfilled life despite symptoms. All while wearing stilettos!
She will continue to thrive, grow, and make her way in the world. If you ever feel discouraged or need inspiration, just look to T’Mil Curtis who has creatively carved out a place for herself.