I know I mostly post DIY’s and some of my cosplay photos on here, but today, I wanted to talk about something else with everyone. It’s something that I wanted to share because being that it is October, many of you guys know it as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. However, on top of that, October is also Bell’s Palsy Awareness Month, and I thought it’d be a good time to share some information, knowledge, and personal experience with everyone.
23 out of 100,000 people get diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy. I was that .023%.
About a little over 3 years ago in spring of 2011, I woke up on a Saturday, feeling sick to my stomach, so I decided to go to an urgent care facility somewhat near my area. My pharmacist worked hand-in-hand with the doctor there, and it was the only place I knew of that was open on the weekends, so I went there. The doctor determined that I had the stomach virus because everything that I ate would be regurgitated, so I went to the pharmacy, picked up some antibiotics, and headed straight home.
The following day, I woke up feeling even worse. My head was pounding. I had a tingly feeling on the side of my left face. I felt like one eye kept tearing up while the other kept blinking because it wasn’t getting enough moister. It felt like I had been hit by a bulldozer or something big because I felt really drained. Still feeling dizzy and nauseous, I asked my best friend to help drive me back to the urgent care clinic.
When I returned, the doctor asked what happened, and why I was back at the clinic. I told him about feeling worse than the day before, and how my head wasn’t feeling right and my face was having a tingly sensation. He checked my eyes, and then looked something up in his book. Then he came back and asked me to do a series of facial expressions after looking at me for awhile. I was asked to raise my eyebrows one at a time, to smile, to blink my eyes, etc.
The doctor then sat me down and told me that he knows what I have, so I asked him to tell me. He placed a small mirror in my hands and asked me to hold it up to view my face. I stared blankly at the mirror and asked what I am looking for. He then repeated the same facial expressions he asked me to do earlier. As I watched my face in the mirror, I stared horrendously at the image that I saw.
Half of my face was not responding to the commands I was giving it. I panicked and asked what was going on, and the doctor calmed me down stating that I had Bell’s Palsy. He told me that it’s when your VII cranial nerve is damaged due to an infection, and as a result, you have facial paralysis on half of your face. Immediately, tears started streaming down my face, but he let me calm down some more and told me his plan.
He said I either have the choice of being sent to an ER to see if they could help me with this, or I can stay at the clinic, and he’ll do his best to treat my condition. Because I was still a student and I didn’t have the money to go to a hospital, I agreed to let him treat me for my condition. I was given multiple oral medications, which included antiviral medication, steroids, an eye ointment or suspension due to one eye not blinking enough (doctor didn’t want my eye to get damaged or dryed out) and I had to get B-12 injections from the office constantly (because I was tired/drained all the time).
I stayed locked up at home the 1st couple weeks. I didn’t go to work. I didn’t go to school. I didn’t talk to anyone but my family members and my boss to let him know my condition. I would see a mirror, but I’d avoid looking at myself because it made me so self conscious that it made me wonder why this was happening to me. The doctor mentioned to me that this was not a well known condition, and there wasn’t much research on it. No one knows how people get it. It just happens.
After the 1st couple weeks, I returned back to work. I continued with my treatment, but I still kept to myself. Not many people knew what was going on, and I wasn’t really open with telling. It was definitely a difficult time in my life, especially when someone that I cared for walked out of my life upon hearing of my condition. I was really devastated that I wanted to close myself off to the entire world, but I couldn’t.
My mother constantly tried different herbal medications for me to try. Though I didn’t agree with mixing eastern & western styles, I agreed because she was worried about me, and I was willing to try anything. There is a fungus called wood ear that she constantly made into liquid form for me to drink, or she’d add it to porridge or soup for me.
After a month, I revisited the same doctor and he told me that he felt that I had recovered from Bell’s Palsy. I couldn’t quite agree with him because I still had images in my head of myself looking like two-face. I looked at myself in the mirror and asked him if he thought it would return. He told me he can’t be sure because it may happen, but it may not. I thanked him for his help, and left the clinic.
It’s been 3 years since I’ve had Bell’s Palsy. When I tell people of the condition I had, they tell me that they see no traces of any facial paralysis remaining, and that they would’ve never known had I not said it. My response was that I think I was very lucky that the doctor realized what it was and diagnosed it. I was also very lucky to have recovered from it because there are people out there who’ve had it for longer periods of time or who recover and get it again.
I hope after reading my Bell’s Palsy story, more people will get a better understanding of what Bell’s Palsy is.