Our drive home from the Chicago area, after being diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, took a couple of hours, and I was exhausted, sad, frustrated, angry, and worried – worried about everything! I thought about my upcoming public speaking events, my kids, and how embarrassed I may make them, my husband, and how he’d feel having a wife with only half a useable face. Every self pitying thought I could think crossed my mind. I just couldn’t believe that I had been dealt yet another blow in my life. How much can someone take before they just break?!
The prognosis for bell’s is usually pretty good. The amount of nerve damage is the determining factor in how much someone recovers. Improvement varies from person to person, and the amount of time it takes to recover is ridiculously argued on every website I visited! The general consensus is, based on the online research I did, as well as what the original ER doctor told me, there will be marked improvement within two weeks from the onset of symptoms. And, within six months, give or take, ‘most’ people recover completely.
Bell’s Palsy is actually much more common than most of us realize. Unless you’ve had it, or know of someone who did, chances are you’ve never heard of this. But, it affects approximately 40,000 Americans every single year. Men and women equally are diagnosed, and although it can occur at any age, it’s less common before 15 and after 60. Some of the research I did clarified that Bell’s does attack more people who have diabetes or upper respiratory concerns, which includes sinus infections.
Outside of the very visual symptoms, I experienced quite a few other symptoms, as well. I had a lot of pain behind my ear, but I also had horrible pain along my jaw line on my left side. It felt like I had been punched in the face! Everything tasted funny, too, and because I couldn’t use half my mouth, I had to use straws for most anything liquid. I also had to be very aware of eating solid foods on my right side, so I didn’t chew up the inside of my mouth on the left side. And, sounds were so loud! Everything just seemed to be over the top noisy! When people would talk to me, using an ‘inside voice,’ it seemed like they were yelling! And, when my kids fought with each other, goodness gracious! I couldn’t believe how obnoxious everything sounded. Oh, and the tv commercials?! Pffft! Craziness.
The one thing I felt was most annoying was not being able to sound out certain letters. I couldn’t say anything with a B in it, the letter F gave me fits, and forget trying to say anything with P in it. And, you guessed it, those letters were important to me! I live in Bloomington, and I kid you not, my debit card had more fives in it than any other number! The expiration date was even May, 2015…. yes, 05/15!! I’m certain you can imagine me, aggravated and cranky, trying to order my comfort food over the phone, and not being able to articulate the damn credit card number. And, then, I couldn’t even say fuck correctly!
This is the third in a series documenting my diagnosis, feelings, and progress with Bell’s Palsy. To read more about my experiences, view all of my posts here.