I came down with Bell’s Palsy on Friday January 4, 2008.  I knew what it was right away because I’ve had it before, so no panic or running to the emergency room…believe me I did that the first time thinking I was having a stroke or something.  Anyway, I called the doctor…

Monday January 7, 2008

Went to my PCP and he gave me a prescription for Prednisone and Acyclovir.  I have done some reading over the weekend and most of the articles I read said Prednisone could be effective, but there was some disagreement as to the anti-viral medication Acyclovir.  Some say it is effective, some say it makes no difference one way or the other and not to waste your money on it.  Dr. Ong wrote up orders for all the blood tests, etc., since I haven’t had a physical in 2 years.  And he sent me to the Neurologist.

World’s Funniest Neurologist

Went to see The Neurologist I’ll call Dr. F.  who is quite a character.  He is very effusive and friendly, and seems almost the absent-minded professor type crossed with ADHD.  I was told, when walking into his office, not to ask about the strings.  I didn’t know what that meant, but figured it out quickly.  I think that some orthodox Jewish men wear prayer belts that have a fringe and he was wearing such a garment under his street clothing.  No white coat for Dr. F.  He’s also got a very traditional beard as worn by a religious man.  I have the utmost respect for Dr. F and his religion. 

He asked me what was the matter and saw right away that I have Bell’s Palsy.  Then he asked what I was taking for it…funny…I have just come from Dr. Ong so have not started any medication.  What did Dr. Ong recommend…Prednisone…Acyclovir.  He was concerned and stated about 3 times that Prednisone can be dangerous, can cause diabetes, mood swings, etc.  How much did Dr. Ong prescribe…I gave him the script.  Oh, this is too much, let me check…so he brought out huge books and was poring over them to determine the correct dosage.  The funniest thing was that he kept asking me if I thought the dosage was correct or not, and when I deferred right back to him he also suggested that I be sure to check with my pharmacist.  Ok, I would do that.  He told me a few more times about Prednisone and the dangers…I guess he wanted to make sure I took it all in. 

I can’t begin tell you how different this was from anything I have ever experienced with the medical community in my entire life. 

He told me Acyclovir was not the right thing, but I kind of already knew that and he changed it to Valtrex.  Great.  So far so good.  He also ordered several blood tests, on top of what Dr. Ong ordered for my physical.  That’s also good because everything I read said they do that and should, because Bell’s Palsy is often misdiagnosed when it’s really something else more serious, so they need to eliminate things like Lupus and Lyme Disease.  There are others, but I can’t remember all of them.

After dictating in absolutely the fastest speech I have ever heard into his phone, he checked my reflexes, eyes, vision, hearing, sensation (in the face), walking, balance, strength, etc.  All good.  Then he warned me several more times of the dangers of Prednisone, yes, I know, mood swings, diabetes, calcium loss… take it for 10 days, taper off… ok… and he sent me on my way.  This took place in less than 20 minutes and I felt exhausted by all of his effusive energy.  Wow.  Too funny.

That was Monday — I’m writing this on Wednesday, and he has called me twice to let me know that he was researching more about the anti-viral drugs.  He felt that the Valtrex was the wrong drug so he called my pharmacy and ordered Famvir.  The pharmacist called back and told me Famvir is not covered by my insurance.  Dr. F. was devastated…

Today he called me again and said that he did some more reading and said that he read Valtrex does work just fine and that I could go ahead and take that as originally prescribed.  He said it was a benign drug and I wouldn’t have any problem with it.  There is still a lot of disagreement whether or not it really helps or if it’s just along for the ride.  But I bought it, so it’s good that it’s ok for me to use it.  He wants me to keep in touch and let him know how I am in about a month.  I’m betting if I don’t that he will call me and ask.  I hope he prays for me, I’m thinking that he has a special relationship with G-d.

Ancient Chinese Medicine

I decided to try Acupuncture…can’t hurt…I have heard many things and did some reading that it can help many things.  I guess I’ve always been curious anyway, so I looked up the local Acupuncturist (don’t know if you can call her a Doctor or not, more on that later) who takes my medical insurance.  She is Chinese (that’s good) and someone about my age (that’s also good).  I had loads of questions, but she was all business and just wanted to do the treatment…wasn’t really too interested in answering questions.  All the same, I thought I would at least try.  By the way, I have had tinnitus for years especially in my left ear, and have had some nasty wax problem in that ear that you don’t want to know about.  She looked at my face, knew right away what to do and was very happy to hear that it had only been 4 days.  She predicts that I will need two weeks of treatment.

The Acupuncture needle is incredibly thin.  It is totally painless, well, mostly totally, one of them pinched a little, and one hurt when I moved…so guess not moving is the best thing.  She puts the needles into the feet, legs, hands, arms, neck, head (yes!), and face.  She put some right behind my ears and in that treatment, put one each on the ear right above the earlobe.  Then she goes over them again and kind of twists them a little, mostly you can’t feel that either, just a little sensation of her moving around you.  Then she put a heat lamp above the right side of my face and left me there for 30 minutes.

The final part of the Acupuncture treatment is called “cupping.”  I have read about this procedure also, and it involves some heated glass cups, they look like little rounded vases with a fluted top about the size of a golf ball.  The puts the cup on your back, and the heat takes up a vacuum and sucks the skin into the cup a little ways.  It doesn’t hurt, but if your circulation is bad (so she says) it makes a little bruise mark.  The bruises don’t hurt either, but they’re pretty bad looking.  I’m sure hoping they do away by the time I want to wear a bathing suit again.  It is said that this treatment aids in the healing process.  Well, that’s what I’m there to do.

So I’ll be doing Acupuncture and cupping for two weeks, I have been twice now and go for my third treatment on Friday.

Other Therapy

I read of various other therapy that can be used, and I’m going to try to get reflexology this weekend.  In addition, I’m taking supplements:

Chinese Herbs (sold to me by the Acupuncturist)

Lecithin, Ginko Biloba, Vitamin B-12 are all said to be good for the nervous system and cell regeneration which is what we’re after.

In addition to those I’m taking supplements for metabolism and energy that are going to help as well.

At night before I go to bed I’m drinking herbal tea (like chamomile, etc.) with a warm compress (the one you can put in the microwave) on my neck, and taping my eyelid shut with a moisturizing eye gel.  Last night I had to take it off and put more eye gel in but I still slept pretty well, considering.  Dr. F. warned me about how Prednisone can keep me awake, so the herbal tea will help with relaxation.  It is so important to keep the stress level down.

Exercise, too.  I’m still doing my workouts every day (actually I had skipped them over the holidays).  That helps to keep the stress down and works off those calories so that the evil Prednisone can’t bulk me up.

Progress So Far

My tinnitus is pretty much gone, and oddly enough the gross ear wax problem seems to have dissipated.  I think that the acupuncture has done that.

My eyelid may be getting stronger, but that may be wishful thinking on the part of my Chinese doctor.  I think I feel some possible movement in my lips on the right side and every so often I am feeling tingling in my right face.  My lower eyelid is still not moving.

My attitude is good, I’m staying positive, and work is going well.  I’m surrounded by work colleagues and friends who are very supportive, interested, and rooting for my recovery in many ways, including offering prayers which are most welcome and I feel are very powerful.

My family is also helping out in many ways and keeping me positive.  I can’t eat very well, and when I do it’s not pretty, so they have been very understanding.  For Breakfast and Lunch, I’m using Slim-Fast, this is good on many levels, including the fact that drinking a meal with a straw is really the most dignified way for me to eat now anyway.  Also, Dr. F. warns that one of the dangers of Prednisone is weight gain, so I need to reduce calorie intake… since I’m trying to lose weight, and have been for years, trust me I’m not worried about having to go on the Slim-Fast diet.  Things could be considerably worse than that.  So for dinner, Tony has given me a feast of soups, and no one is complaining that I slurp a bit.  Tonight, he made home-made vegetable soup with pesto sauce.  I even managed a piece of french bread with it.   Most yummy.  My appetite is down anyway because my sense of taste is literally cut in half — nothing on the right side of my tongue works.  So I’m really quite happy with that.

Tomorrow I’ll post pictures.


2 Responses to “The Healing Journey Begins”

  1. 1 Norma January 31, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Hi, I’m so amazed by your positive attitude. It’s been weeks since this posting and I’m just curious to know how you are feeling now.
    My dad just came down with his second round of Bell’s Palsy this Tuesday. After reading your article I am going to make an appointment to an acupuncturist.
    Also, my daughter’s had tinnitus for years so I’ll probably take her in too (that’s if she can tolerate the needles).
    Please let me know how you’re doing.


  2. 2 wiltap January 31, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Thanks, Norma…thanks for your comments. I’m doing a little better every day, you can check out my Journal page I try to update it every so often.

    You need to start your dad on treatments right away, the earlier the better. If you wait too long it’s harder to treat. And that is true of either Western medicine or Traditional Chinese. The Western medicine recommends steroids and anti-viral. I took Prednisone and Valtrex. Traditional Chinese will include acupuncture, cupping, and herbs.

    You can see in my article how many other things there are to try, but one key ingredient is to start right away.

    I figure that my attitude is the one thing I can control…so I choose positive and happy and I think that it makes a difference in everything I do. It just doesn’t pay to get stressed out.

    As for the tinnitus…I do know that it works when you use acupuncture for it, however, mine did come back. After I recover from the Bell’s Palsy I’m going to ask her to treat that again. It was so nice to not have to listen to the noise. I’m thinking that it might just take regular treatments to keep it away, maybe it’s not a cure, but some relief is possible.

    Thank you again and check back on my journal to get regular updates.

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