Saturday, June 20, 2015

Ask Not For Whom The Bell's Toll

It tolls for me!

Exactly 2 months ago I was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy after noticing some strange things going on with my face the night before.  By the time I made it to the doctor on April 20th, it seemed like the whole left side of my face was frozen.

The appointment that day was with my new "hormone doctor," and just happened to fall within 24 hours of my first Bell's Palsy symptom.  She gave the diagnosis, some steroids for the palsy and my first prescriptions for injectable estrogen and progesterone.  Overall it was a good day, although I was scared the palsy would never go away.

Two weeks later I saw my "regular doctor" and he told me I had been on the Prednisone long enough.  After a couple of weeks on that steroid pill, both doctors agreed the best treatment was to let the disease run it's course.  He also predicted that the palsy would be gone in 2 months.  I feel like I am about 90% over it now so in two weeks there is a chance it will be totally gone, proving my doctor's prediction to be true.  Sometimes, even those "practicing" medicine get it right.

The last 2 months has been a real eye opener for me.  This is especially true of my left eye, which even now appears to be a little more open than my right. The eyelid muscles on my left side were one the things affected by this condition, as well as the muscles on that side that control my mouth movements.

The way this thing played out is that for two weeks the left side of my face was almost completely paralyzed and "drooping."  Then it started slowly getting better with a little bit of improvement noticed each week.

June 3, 2015
People now tell me they can't tell from looking me that anything is wrong, except maybe when I am tired and my right eye isn't as open as the left.  If I give a Big grin, the left side of my mouth won't stretch up as far as the right, but I do feel it is getting there.  The most aggravating symptom that is still lingering around to some degree, is that my eyes get tired or "bleary" if I read or have them active too long.

Most of the time I forget that I have Bell's Palsy, to whatever extent I still have it.  Hopefully when I go to my regular doctor next month for a physical I will be completely over it.  Some people have residual symptoms that can last a long time or forever but if it looks like that's happening with me I am going to ask the doctor to send me to physical therapy or something to finish rejuvenating the muscles.
June 15, 2015

While this episode has caused the last couple of months to be more stressful than normal and (for the first few weeks anyway) limited my travel and social interaction, I have come away with a few positives.

One thing I learned, or relearned, is that beauty is fleeting.  We never know what can happen in any given moment to take our looks (or some aspect of our health) away.  This just adds to the list of reasons (which include a history of skin cancer) why I am thinking that facial surgery or other procedures might not be a good idea for me.

Another thing I learned is true empathy for those with any form of paralysis.  It is one thing to feel for someone having a problem, but quite another to have experienced that problem in one form or another.  Not being able to move an area of your body is downright scary.  During this episode I have heard from sooo many people who suffered with Bell's Palsy, or knew someone that had. Most had a complete recovery within weeks or months but a few have lingering symptoms and a very rare few never made any recovery at all.

One of the girls in my TBN group has Cerebral Palsy and will have to deal with issues similar to mine (and more) for life.  We related on this while discussing the difficulties of applying makeup to a numb area on the face, specifically the eyes. 

I just have to realize how blessed I am, how thankful I am for my blessings and how lucky I have been in making this recovery so quickly.  I don't know what other curves life will throw at me but I just can't take any of my blessings for granted.  None of us can.


A social media app's analysis of my current profile picture.  This picture was taken yesterday, June 19, 2015.
Exactly 2 months after the first symptoms of Bell's palsy appeared.

*A parting message for those of you who feel stuck, unable to move forward....

"You have to feel it deep inside and the desire to be free will burn as brightly as the midday sun. You have to yearn to be yourself as strongly as you'd desire a bottle of water after a dry day in the desert. Drink of it and once you have the taste of freedom there is no going back."

Tammy Matthews

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