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Gordon Pinsent suffers from pain that feels like 'being bitten by a tiger'

Gordon Pinsent at the Genie Awards in Ottawa last month.

CP

Canadian acting legend Gordon Pinsent says he sometimes has to take time off work because of intense pain that feels like "being bitten by a tiger."

The 80-year-old actor suffers from Trigeminal Neuralgia, a condition that causes excruciating stabbing or electric shock-like pains in his eye.

"I'm getting used to it," he said Monday, explaining he had to take some time away from the theatre as he worried the pain would return while on stage. "Let me tell you it used to send me to the floor and now it doesn't."

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Pinsent, who opened up about his pain after speaking at a long-term care conference in Toronto, says he often has pain-free stretches that last as long as 20 weeks.

The actor, whose extensive voiceover work includes the voice of animated elephant king "Babar," said electronics like earphones and microphones can often aggravate the condition.

"I've had to rip them off at times because there's that relationship between that and the pain of the neuralgia," he said.

The nerve condition, which mainly affects those over 50, was once known as "the suicide disease" before medication to treat the debilitating pain became widely available.

The veteran performer says he's suffered from the condition for about 12 years.

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