Sunday, January 23, 2011

Smiling on the left... but... still smiling

Bell's palsy is a neural disease we learned about as students in nursing school. The singer Frenchie Dy, is known to have acquired it and everyone thought 'what bad luck that among the hundreds of diseases out there, this rare one actually gets her'. That's what I think everyone felt. It's actually quite an issue with Frenchie since she's a performer and therefore must have a face that always looks good in front of an audience.  My sister thought this form of facial paralysis can be had when you overexpose yourself to a fan or airconditioning. She swears that two of her classmates, who always placed a fan on one side of their faces,eventually acquired paralysis on that side. My friend told me that she had a friend once, who, when her boyfriend left her, instantly got Bell's Palsy.

So much for all the theories and urban legends surrounding the very mysterious Bell's Palsy.

Why am I even blogging about it anyway? That's because I have it.

Well today is Day 11 of my recovery from Bell's Palsy. It feels normal actually. I don't feel any fever coming in nor am I suffering from an insurmountable amount of pain. Just that I noticed in the beginning of last week, my eyes were becoming very uncomfortable,a little bit painful and itchy. That's when I realized that my right eyelid does not close properly which is reason for it to feel uncomfortable and compensate by being teary-eyed. I also felt pressure at the front and back of my ear and our house was on full no-direct-contact alert because we all thought this was the highly transmissible Mumps. I am thankful it's not mumps cause that's more painful and scary. I still was able to go to work although my eyes still kept tearing up. Then the middle of the week came and suddenly my entire right face could not move.Only one eye blinks. When I try to close it, the eyelid only closes a little halfway. The right eyebrow does not rise or frown. The right nostril does not flare and that looked kind of funny. What's more obvious is the mouth part. It's really unnerving when I speak or laugh or smile, my mouth moves on one side so I tried hard not to smile during the next few days.
Day 5 photo: The dreaded palsy has struck a nerve-- my facial nerve
or cranial nerve VII. (enough with the medical jargon please!)

I was so lucky to have bosses who were also health care practitioners and easily noticed that a cause of my sudden inability to move my facial muscles could be neural in nature. I  was terrified at first because I thought anything connected to nerves is a major issue. Immediately on the day after onset, we went to a neurologist and she explained to us that a virus attacked my system and was 'eating' my facial nerve. She  confirmed this condition to be Bell's Palsy. I am thankful that my case was mild. She prescribed Prednisone/ or an anti-inflammatory agent to lessen any swelling that may also be affecting the nerve and Vitamin B complex for neural repair (amazing!). She told us that a common cause of Bell's Palsy is stress and puyat (or spending time awake during normal sleeping hours). I have a talent for pagpupuyat. I love it. And now it has now taken a toll on my body which made me realize how I should value my health more.

Our neurologist explained that this was more common that most people think. More of her Bell's Palsy cases happen around the holidays when people are more prone to stress, partying and staying up late. Well, anyway, so much for all these explanations and causes. We've all now proven wrong all the previous urban legends about Bell's.

Day 11 photo: more teeth can be seen
Well now as an update on Day 11,... my eyes, they say, blink together. I can see more of my teeth on the right side when I smile. My eyebrows are still worrisome since they still do not  frown or rise as willed. But with my family and friends' faith and prayers on my side, I am so much better. Eleven days after and I look so normal barely no one noticed the small imbalances on either side of the face. Other patients (reference: youtube) still have the major symptoms for several weeks or months on end. The end goal here is to get all muscles to return to normal at the same pace and avoid therapy. My personal goal is to get my smile back :)

I hope that what I've shared with you today would increase your insight about your health. I never would've known how much my chronic pagpupuyat could affect me and so could it affect you. Stress is a major underlying cause in many diseases today so let's all be careful about our health and lessen the abuse we inflict on our bodies.

Take care, you.

sincerely, Flor.


Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing this. My sister who's 7 months pregnant now was just diagnosed with the same disease :( we're all worried for her. Was browsing on the net to orient myself about Bells Palsy then i found ur blog. God bless!

Anonymous said...

recover soon flor and best wishes!

Flor said...

@ anonymous: hi there, basically i look absolutely normal now, with only a slight pain above my cheek bone meaning inside it;s not full recovered. it took me around a month to look normal, ... the key is to drink steroids as soon as possible but it might be tricky since your sister is pregnant. i hoep you went to the doctor as soon as you can also! hope she recoversfast

@ prinsesa musang: thanks! i felt the support

Anonymous said...

hi there! I'm also one who is suffering from bells palsy right now, its my 7th day. my doctor only give me acupuncture, can u give me the right dozes of prednisones and right vitamin so that I can fully recovered. I'm 43,thanks for your blog it really helps me alot. ASAP

Flor said...

hi there, i hope you can read my repy since i cant find a link to reply to you. but then,i think it would always be best to search a neurologist near you. just search in google or in if your in the philippines. My neuro gave me prednisone, not sure about the milligrams but 10 capsules only. anything more than that is dangerous, that's why it's so important to visit the MD first so he/she can prescribe the right amount.

Flor said...

..well sorry about the prednisone, it's not exactly dangerous but it might cause some undue symptoms if taken more than the usual amount so again it's best to visit th MD first. then i was also prescribed with mecobalamin (twice /day ,30 days) and vitamin b complex (once/day,30 days. I was also advised to avoid salty food as it weakens the nerve endings and also cold water. i also went into therapy afterward..

Flor said...

But i am not a big fan of the therapy because the small electircal currents they run though your face scare me, i have low tolerance for pain. but it's really good to try that because you can really see how fast the face goes back to normal. also there are massages that you can find in the net that can help and you could use an infrared lamp on your face for a few minutes too.

Also, try not to stress yourself out and try not to sleep late.

As for my recovery, within 2-3 weeks, i look slightly normal already, only i can see the difference except the eyes which were the last to return.

So there, i hope this has been helpful, i hope you have a wonderful recovery miss anonymous.

If you have other questions, i'd be ever so glad to help :)

Anonymous said...

thanks for your help! But my recovery is not fast as you, still I am now on my 3rd week.No changes. Could you tell me where is your doctor located so that I can have my second opinion. Thank you so much.

Flor said...

Hi there, my doctor is in Perpetual Help Las Pinas. If you are staying in the Philippines that is. You may look for their site in google and search for neurologists' names there. I'm sure they could help you cause they have a neuro rehabilitation center as well. How are you doing right now?

elaine besley said...

hi,not bein intrusive at all,but my husband was born with the condition,hes 49 now,there was a young girl on americas got talent a few years with similer condition,can u help me by finding her name,cos from the side view was just like my husband,many thanks,hope your well.x

Anonymous said...

Hi flor:) r u a nurse too? Is there any chance u could share the name of ur neurologist in perpetual? I am in England at the moment,& is very stressed with my condition. Mine is not bells palsy... It's myasthenia gravis, I am struggling big time, & want to have a 2nd opinion. I think ur neurologist is really good... Thank u:) hope all is well now:)

Flor (author) said...

hi elaine, im not really sure about the girl in americas got talent who has the same condition as i have. but wow, your husband has bells for a long time, that could be a little bit challenging but i did consider my life pretty much hormal, only that it really lowered my confidece. is it the same for him?

Keith said...

I read a poem wheere the poet wrote of the paralysis of his seventh cranial nerve. In the decades since I met him, I have seen few references to this ailment. Ienjoy your posts. Thank you

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