Yesterday I received a call from one of my high school teachers who I remain in touch with. She wanted to ask me about my Bell’s Palsy as she now has a friend who has been diagnosed with it.
Nine years ago today I diagnosed my Bell’s Palsy. I still recall that summer day well. It was a Saturday. A beautiful sunny summer day.
I was home alone with my dogs (Columbo, Girlfriend, and Ladybug) as my husband was working out of town. I was on ER call. I had had a horrible headache the past few days with severe pain in my right ear.
I can recall noticing my face in the bathroom mirror mid-morning and thinking my mouth didn’t look quite right. I ignored it. Later that day as the ascending paralysis of Bell’s Palsy progressed, I would not be able to ignore it.
As far as the world can see now, all my facial function returned. There are some very minor things that still bug me – the teeth on the right side of my mouth are very sensitive (I use Senodyne toothpaste which helps but find I avoid professional cleaning on a regular basis). Sometimes the right facial muscles feel tight so I will try to discretely massage them. When I am really tired, my right eye gets an odd “itching” sensation.
One of these days I want to do a self-portrait quilt (ala Picasso) that reflects my face (or my perception of it) during the Bell’s Palsy episode.
I disliked speaking during the weeks when my mouth didn’t work. I never drooled but the poor control over the right side of my mouth made some words difficult to pronounce (plosive constant's need a good lip seal). It seemed to me that people had more trouble understanding me over the phone than in person.
My friend’s phone call brought it all back so very clearly.
Check out this essay: HOW CRUEL TO CALL IT 'BELL'S PALSY!' By Graeme Garden