The terrifying time half my face froze and I was told I had Bell's Palsy
For my mom's 60th birthday, my sister and decided to take my mom to New York City. She hadn't been there in decades and we were all looking forward to a long, girls-only weekend. Everything was set and as the day of our departure got closer, we couldn't hide our excitement. And then, out of the blue, I woke up the day before our trip feeling very strange. I had a very stressful job in television, so I just attributed it to being tired. But as the day went on, I started to feel like half of my face was going numb. Then, a co-worker told me my face looked weird.
I ran to the restroom to look at myself in the mirror and noticed that the right side of my face was not responding to my commands. I couldn't close my right eye, I couldn't blink and I was only getting a one-sided smile. Logically, I freaked out. I thought I was having a stroke!
When I got to the ER, I was told I had all the symptoms of a condition called Bell's Palsy, something I'd never heard about and how no idea what it was. Basically, it's the weaking of the muscles on one side of your face due to nerve damage most likely caused by a viral infection--although the cause is not completely clear.
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Once I found out what it was, I mostly wanted to know when it was going to go away. Sadly, the news were not good. While Bell's Palsy comes on suddenly, it likes to stay around for a few good weeks. I had it for about six weeks and I can honestly say they were some of the most miserable ones I've had in my life.
I'll never forget I went through some spells of major pain behind my ear and in my face. But the worst part was having to walk around with an eye patch, like a pirate, to keep my eye moist and keep dust and debri away as I was unable to blink or produce tears. I also couldn't eat a regular diet and for a long while I had to drink all my liquids with a straw to prevent spillage.
Eventually, I recovered completely, but my face has never looked the same. The best way I can describe it is that it looks like I got Botox injections on half of my face. Although most people can't even tell the permanent changes I'm talking about, I know they're there and I don't love them. Then again, I'll always be thankful that the paralysis wasn't permanent, a rare but possible complication.
Image via Roxana A. Soto