My Lopsided Smile

I need to update you on something… on Friday I started having symptoms of Bell’s Palsy on the right side of my face, and today that side of my face is totally non-functional. In case you are not familiar with Bell’s Palsy, it’s a paralysis of the facial muscles, usually on one side of the face, caused by the inflammation of the facial nerve that runs through a canal in the skull behind the ear. This nerve controls muscular movement of the face only, which is lips, cheeks, eyes, eyelids, and forehead. They don’t really know what causes the nerve to become inflamed, although it is associated with a number of viruses including the common cold. It is not contagious. It’s self-limiting and will not spread to other nerves.

I have had this once before, over 20 years ago, and it went away by itself after a few months, I don’t recall how long it lasted but I think it was something like 3 or 4 months.

So, you will notice that I cannot move at all on the right side of my face. I have difficulty eating (hey, maybe that would be good for my diet!), drinking and talking. I have some slight pain right behind my ear, which I’m sure is the inflammation. My smile is undoubtedly lopsided…and sometimes I have to rub my right eye which gets a bit dried out. I’ll be wearing my glasses as contacts will not work as I can’t blink too well on the right side. I will probably be getting some medication to try and bring the inflammation down more quickly.

I’m trying to stay positive and confident, and I just wanted all of you to know so you weren’t caught off guard by my appearance. It’s ok to ask me about it and talk about it with me, and if you have any experience or knowledge of Bell’s Palsy you can share I would very much appreciate it.

 On another note, Amy returns from her visit to England today, she’s in the air somewhere over Canada as I write this!  Can’t wait to hear about her visit and how much fun she had.  I’m glad she got to spend time with her sister.


6 Responses to “My Lopsided Smile”

  1. 1 Stacy February 11, 2008 at 9:19 am

    I woke up last Friday morning with Bells Palsy. It’s only been a few days, but the positive attitude I have in front of my husband, kids and friends is fading quickly. I don’t think I can keep up the facade for months! How do you deal with everyday life with one side of your face unmatched with the other? So far I have been wearing sunglasses and pretending it doesn’t bother me, but it does. I am the kind of person who never leaves the house without makeup, and now all the makeup in the world can’t hide this. I just want to know how you wake up every morning and go through the day with half your face paralized. I tell myself how lucky I am I don’t have anything serious or life threatening, but it’s still hard to look people in the eye wondering what they are thinking when they look back at me. I was hoping there was something, anything you can say to help me keep my positive attitude since you have gone through this.

  2. 2 wiltap February 11, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    First of all, thanks for writing, have you read my Bell’s Palsy pages and my journal? If you have, then you know that you should immediately see your doctor and also start acupuncture. Your regular doctor will prescribe oral steroids like Prednisone and an anti-viral medication. Current medical practice believes that Bell’s Palsy is caused by an inflammation of the facial nerve (duh) caused possibly by a virus, could be the same virus that causes oral herpes and/or varicella, the one that causes chicken pox. Also if you have had an injury. But mostly they don’t know what causes it. So the steroids and anti-virals are most commonly prescribed, along with a nice pat on the head and go home it will go away by itself. Fine.

    Chinese medicine says that Bell’s Palsy is caused by cold wind on the neck and ear. I started acupuncture about 4 days after I got Bell’s Palsy, please read about it on my Bell’s Palsy pages you will find the links at the right side of the blog.

    Now, as for keeping your positive attitude… that is very much your choice. Think of all the things in your life, or the life of your family that have been a challenge, and how you came through them. You know, it’s ok to grieve, but this is only temporary. So if you are happy and graceful then everyone else around you will be too.

    My advice and encouragement to you is to keep on enjoying the company of others like you always have. If you were successful before, you will be still because people were responding to you, not your face. I know it’s hard…I had to do a stand-up presentation at work, when my face was really bad. I couldn’t talk too well, which made it pretty funny and then my face, well… I could see a couple of people reacting but then they just kind of took it as given that my face was like that and I don’t think it got in the way. I can tell you it was a great confidence booster. So get out there!!

    There are many healing things you can do. I think the most important thing is stress-reduction and relaxation. Try reflexology and acupuncture. Use a heating pad or warm dry compress on your neck and side of the ear at night before bed. Then a cup of tea and lie down on the pillow with that up against the back of my neck behind my ear and it’s so wonderful.

    Hope this helps! Be strong, you can do it, and you will be fine and look back on this as a small blip on the radar.

    By the way this is the second time I’ve had BP. I hardly remember the first time, I was in my 20’s and now I’m 50. I’m praying it goes away like it did the first time…I guess you never know but I’m healthy otherwise so have no reason to believe it will not go away.

  3. 3 Julie C September 30, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    As a person who has had many family members afflicted with Bell’s Palsy; I know that you need to work fast to limit damage.
    My grandmother suffered needlessly for over 30 years and it affected her smile forever; my mother has had it several times; my mother-in-law got it soon after we met and I was able to give her some advice; now she is fully cured.
    It may sound weird, but it works.
    Use a heating pad on the side of your face that is affected. Use it non-stop. ASAP!
    While looking in the mirror, over-exaggerate and say the words to Old MacDonald over and over – if it is just your mouth.
    If your eye is affected and drying out; try taping it shut with very gently skin friendly tape from the pharmacy, or using swimmers goggles when you sleep.
    I hope this helps; it has with my family.

    Julie C

  4. 4 wiltap September 30, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    Thanks for your comments, Julie. I can say that in my experience having had BP twice now that the few things you suggest are very good. There are other things you can do, too, and supplements you can take. Be sure you go to a doctor and start treatments right away as that is key to having a quick recovery. But remember that there are no guarantees but most of the time BP will go away. Read my Bell’s Palsy pages for more details. All the best!

  5. 5 Sakura July 1, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    I’m scared, I don’t know what to do… I wake up this morning to find that I had a lopside smile. Then I found out I can’t control my right eyes at all! What’s going on? Would it be like that forever? Is there any medicine?

    • 6 wiltap July 1, 2010 at 2:14 pm

      Don’t panic!! If you can get to a doctor it would be best to do so right away. If they tell you that you have Bell’s Palsy, ask the doctor to prescribe an anti-viral medicine and a steriod such as prednisone. Start taking some vitamins — I mention the ones I take in my articles… Magnesium was one that I know should be good. Also I would highly recommend acupuncture.

      I think that in the majority of cases, Bell’s Palsy will go away on it’s own. In my opinion you cannot do yourself any harm by being aggressive and seeking medical care. If you read my blog you will see all the different things I did and how well I recovered.

      But don’t panic… in the long run, of all the things that could go wrong, Bell’s Palsy is pretty minor.

      Good Luck!

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