April 28

I think that for now I can say that I’m fully recovered, or at least I think I’m as good as I’m going to get.  There may be more to go, but what I see in the mirror looks pretty normal.  What’s going on under the covers is slightly different than before.  I have a metallic taste almost constantly on the right side of my mouth.  I have read where Bell’s Palsy will change your sense of taste.  I also can feel weakness in my muscles, when I try with my hand to resist the “smile” muscles just under the eye or in the lips, it is markedly weaker than the left side.  You can’t really see it, though…so it’s just noticeable to me.

Last week I went to see an ENT about an ear infection and he could not guess which side had been affected.  He said he would not have known had I not said anything.

Today I fell in the gym and hit my head, so I’m hoping that I didn’t injure the nerve in any way.  I have read that Bell’s Palsy is often caused by injury.  I hit the back of my head (and my butt) not the side by the ear, so it should be ok.

I’ve asked for a massage for Mother’s Day, so I’m going to make an appointment for the reflexology which I think was very helpful.

March 26

I don’t have much new to report, either way.  This might be as good as it gets.  But when I think about it, I just think about smiling faces.  First, that smiling is the best medicine and is the best way to keep a positive attitude.  If I can’t smile anymore, I grit my teeth…but that’s really not happening.  I just smile as much as I can.  Second, everyone’s face is lopsided.  I really notice that now…kind of like when you buy a new car and you suddenly see it everywhere.  I see faces on TV that are lopsided, all over town, and it’s a normal thing.  So I might not keep up this journal unless I think I have full recovery, which could be never, and maybe it is not such a tragedy.  I can blink, I can eat, and I can talk, so that is all much better than it was on January 4 and I feel fine and blessed that my health is good.  Stay tuned, I’ll let you know.

March 13

I said at the outset that I would be happy when I could blink my eye, and I am definitely there.  I’m still not wearing my contacts after over 3 months, but I hope that in another month I can start wearing them again, at least part of the day.  Overall the muscles all seem to be moving, but just not as much as the left side.  Unless I actually tell someone that I’ve got Bell’s Palsy, people don’t notice, at least they don’t admit it to me!    There are some days that I can forget I have Bell’s and then there are some days that I am afraid it’s getting worse again…I think I’m a little paranoid.  Like yesterday I had that little ache behind my ear again…and I don’t know if it’s because the nerve is healing or because it’s getting inflammation again.  So I find myself flexing my face muscles in different ways when I’m working or alone…hopefully no one catches me doing it, because I’m sure that it will look as if I’m making faces!  Anyway I am going to give it another month before I start wearing my contacts again. 

I stopped the acupuncture treatments two weeks ago, I think I had a total of about 16 treatments.  It was too expensive for me to carry on my own, once the insurance ran out.  But I will go back next week, and probably keep going about 1 or 2 times per month because I believe it really helped!

A really strange coincidence happened, that one of my co-workers who sits close to me has also just come down with Bell’s Palsy.  I immediately referred him to my acupuncturist.  I don’t think it has anything to do with our environment although the building can be quite cold at times, and the air conditioning can cause drafts.  Most of the time I’m quite comfortable at work, but I do tend to wear jackets and sweaters in that building on a regular basis.

I’ve posted another picture, see if you can see the difference.

February 28

Well, this week doesn’t bring a lot of progress…I think I’m pretty much were I was last week.  Still, it’s a lot better than it was when it started and for that I’m very happy.  I think that the key is to stay happy and reduce stress, and let this just go away by itself.  I’ve done everything I can do and the rest is just going to have to happen in its own good time.  I think I might try to get a massage this weekend or next week, I think that helps a lot…if not it just feels really good.  😉

February 19

I decided today that I have about 75% of my movement back in my face, overall.  When I raise my eyebrows together (the surprised look) they are almost even, I would say the eyebrow raising muscles are probably 99% working.  When I try to squint, or squeeze my eyes shut, I can see that the right eye squints a little less than the left.  For anyone reading this who puts on mascara…this will make sense — I can blink through the mascara brush, but still a little weaker than the left.  I can raise my cheek (that is needed for smiling, I can scrunch my nose (like smelling something bad) and I can push out my lower lip (like pouting).  I can frown, and furrow my brow (a serious look).  I can almost pucker, but cannot whistle.  My top lip is still pretty weak, and I cannot roll my lips inward, evenly, like when you try to spread the lipstick across your lips.  I’m not certain that my eye reflexes are very good yet on the right side, although I am not accidentally poking myself in the eye any more.  Too funny.  I’m still wearing glasses, because I’m still not making many tears (the tear production I think is affected by the eyelid muscles, and I think that spreading the tears across the eyes is done by the eyelids).

I think that only a few people are noticing now anyway, and probably a casual contact would not even notice a thing.

I’m going to continue my acupuncture once a week, and continue all the other therapies as well…everything I’m doing is good for me and will only make me stronger in the end.  I have posted another picture so you can see the progress.

February 5

I posted another picture taken yesterday and I think my recovery continues nicely.  I didn’t get to have a reflexology massage so I think I will schedule one for this coming weekend as it should be quiet.  I’m having to cut back on the acupuncture but I think since the healing is coming along so nicely that’s ok.  I’m going to have 2 treatments this week and then we’ll see, maybe 2 next week and then decide if I need more.  The last treatment I had very little pain at all.  She did the cupping on my face and caused a few little red marks on my cheek, but nothing major.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what can cause Bell’s Palsy and what I might do to prevent getting it again.  The Chinese think it’s caused by cold wind, and my acupuncturist said to keep my neck and ears covered and not to sleep under a fan.

I am taking that advice, and keeping my neck covered at night.  I use a silk pashmina scarf just loose around my neck because I really like to sleep in a cool room and during the summer I do like to use the fan.  Since the advice is not to sleep under a fan or in a draft, I think that covering my neck and ears is a good idea.  Most nights I have a little foam ear plug in so that keeps any cold draft out of my ear.

I work out most mornings at the local “Y” and they do run the ceiling fans and have the A/C down really low so it’s awfully cold and drafty in there.  So I keep a scarf on during the workout, too!  What people must think…but I don’t care, because I don’t talk to anyone when I’m there.  I’m quite an unfriendly person when working out.  LOL

Another recommendation was to use a heating pad before bed, on the back of the neck and behind the ear.  So I try to stay on it for about 10 minutes and enjoy a cup of herbal tea before bed…and it’s relaxing as well…which is good for overall stress relief.

January 29

I think I have now about 10% recovery, and if you look at my pictures you will see what I mean.  I have had 10 acupuncture treatments, including the dreaded “cupping.”  The last treatment I was very sensitive when she put the needles in above my right eyebrow and in my legs, and my feet.  I think the eyebrow area is a bit bruised, although it is not sensitive to the touch.  It pinched quite a bit when the needle was inserted, but once there it was not painful.  With the acupuncture, I find that if I just breathe and relax the pinch goes away quite quickly.

I also have added magnesium and lysine to my supplements, having read about those on a Bell’s Palsy support web site. 

I want to have another reflexology massage this weekend if I can fit it in, but my cousin from Bismarck and her daughter are in town.  That reminds me, I need to clean because she’s spending the night on Monday night.

January 18

I’m happy to say that I can move my eyelid a bit more, and also I can move my nostril and a bit of my eyebrow.   Also I think my lower lip is stronger.  So there is some progress, and I’m very happy about that.

I’m continuing acupuncture, including a process called “cupping” which is said to speed healing.  The first couple of times she did it I looked like my back had been attacked by a giant squid.  She does it on my neck, so I look like I have a hickie there, but it’s perfectly round.  My back looks much beter now.

I’m also doing reflexology massage and I definitely think that’s helping, too.  During and after the reflexology I can feel energy sensations in my face and neck, and after today’s session I felt totally energized.  I really felt well all day…even though I was trying to focus on the taxes…LOL.

January 14 

I have now had Bell’s Palsy for 10 days. 

I think the worst thing is talking and then eating is a nightmare.

Of course, it goes without saying I’m not pleased with my appearance on my face.  But, the really good news is that I’ve lost some weight by staying on Slim Fast for the past week, breakfast and lunch.  So even if my face looks funny, my body can improve!

Time will tell, of course, and I think that keeping a good attitude is one of the keys.  Hey, it’s not the worst thing that could happen.

When I looked around at the others working out at the YMCA the other day, I noticed a youngish man in his 30’s walking on the treadmill in a very tentative way.  He is not overweight, on the contrary, he looks like a very normal size and shape.  However, he walks with some difficulty unaided, and I noticed he uses a lightweight walker (with wheelies) most of the time.  I’m guessing that he could be a stroke victim.  So, when I think about something that would really be serious, that could be something to consider.  That’s when I really stop feeling sorry for myself, and stop being afraid of this not getting better.

So… progress?  I can move my right lower eyelid about 1 millimeter.  I couldn’t do that on Saturday.  It’s something, anyway.  The other thing is that I still have tingling and sensations in the right side of my face, especially after the acupuncture.  I imagine that my muscles are contracting, although I can’t see anything.  It just feels like they are moving a bit.  It would be interesting if they really are… stay tuned and I’ll let you know.

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