Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hell's Bells

I can’t whistle. I can’t drink through a straw. And blotting my lips is impossible. Late last week, I thought I was coping with a bad eye infection that didn’t seem to be healing. In fact, it was the beginning of something else that is now in full effect. I’ve contracted Bell’s Palsy.

If you’ve also won the misfortune lottery, then you know what I’m talking about. For the rest of you, let me explain. Bell’s Palsy occurs when the 7th cranial nerve to your face is damaged, and as a result, all the facial muscles weaken, sag, and go into a semi-paralyzed state. I’m clueless as to how my now least favorite nerve got damaged. But according to a website I found, both the chicken pox virus and the cold sore virus that linger forever in your body can suddenly wake up and go hunting for a new home. . . .like the 7th cranial nerve. My Lupus probably isn’t to blame, but no one is ruling that out either.

In my case, the entire left side of my face is affected. It's easy to see my drooping left eye and eyebrow, and when I talk and smile, only the right side seems to work. The left side of my mouth is on sabbatical. Some syllables come out a little mangled because of the constricted lip movement.

Husband: How many should I make the dinner reservation for?
Me: Sis
Husband: Sis?
Me (2nd try): SIS!
Husband: Sis? You don’t have a sister!
Me: Six (holding up 5 fingers)

My biggest problem is that because my left eye doesn't blink automatically with the other eye, my eye is constantly tearing up and burning. So, I 'm either patching the eye closed, or putting in heavy duty eye drops. And always clutching a handful of kleenix.

The good news is that this condition usually is not permanent, but the bad news is that it can take anywhere from 2 weeks to many months for the nerve to regenerate and heal. In the meantime, reading or computing for long periods of time is challenging, so work is definitely going to be a challenge as I work with spreadsheets, numbers, and computers all day.

Yes, it sucks big time. Yes, I'm having a tough time dealing with the symptoms. Yes, I'm vain enough that it bothers me immensely. Yes, I'm worried about a complete recovery. And yes, I need to say it again, this sucks.


Elizabeth said...

Sorry you have to go through this.

I've known several people who've had it, and, have recovered completely for whatever that's worth.

Confessions from the sandwich generation said...

Thanks--I stopped by your blog and found it full of information and interesting tidbits. Thanks for stopping by!

Ron Southern said...

Bad, but at least it's identified and you can hope for some wellness down the line. Hope it works out that way soon.

The Adjunct Professor said...

I also have known a few people with Bell's Palsey and they have gotten over it relatively quickly, and completely.

Still, of course you are worried about a full recovery, it is only normal. Also, I think it is a good thing that you are vain enough that it bothers you. I think the time to worry is when you stop being vain enough.

Anyway, I wish you the best of luck with this.