I woke up Sun 23/12/12 and felt fine, but tired from little sleep with a 3 week old baby. I was run down and the roof of my mouth was ulcerated. I had breakfast and all was normal. I cleaned my teeth, but when I rinsed out my mouth water spilled from one side. I thought that was odd and tried again. It was then that I realized I could not hold water in my mouth, my lips on the left side would not close properly. I then noticed my left eye started to drop and that left side of my face had dropped. I started to panic. I though I was having a stroke. My first thoughts were that I would have a stroke and not be able to care for my baby. I was scared. My husband was at work (1 ½ hours away). I thought an ambulance would take to long to get to me. I had no other stroke symptoms so I put my baby in the car, took the risk and drove to the emergency at the hospital (10 min away) praying I would get there before I had the stroke.
I walked into emergency holding my 3 week old baby and they saw me immediately. After some initial tests they confirmed that I was not having a stroke. I had Bells Palsy. I had partial paralysis of the left side of my face. I was initially relieved that I was not having a stroke and I would be able to care for my baby. I was given prednisone tablets (50mg for 5 days). This meant I could not breast feed and had to express and dump while giving my baby formula. The doctor told me most people recover in about 2 to 3 weeks.
Day 2 – Xmas Eve
I started to feel sorry for myself, adjusting to the symptoms of Bell’s Palsy. I looked odd! I am someone that always cared about my appearance. Only one side of my face could smile. I did not want people to see me. I could not blink, this irritated my eye, I had to use eye drops to lubricate the eye ball. The air conditioning, and when outside, the wind would irritate it. I could close my eye with effort, but it would not seal. I could not squint so the outside glare was bad. I could not hold liquid in my mouth, so I could only drink through a straw. The nerves in my tounge were also affected. I could only chew soft foods on the right side of my mouth. And would often bite my lips. I thought I would never be able to go out for dinner with people again. I couldn’t blow my nose because the air escaped out of my mouth. Some of my speech was slurred. I felt embarrassed when I spoke.
Day 3 - Xmas Day
I continually looked in the mirror hoping for improvement. But I felt my symptoms had gotten worse. There was minor pain around my ear, my vision was not clear and my coordination was off. I was not mentally alert, I felt confused. I also started to get small twitches on the left side of my face. I was desperate for help, but because it was xmas nothing was open. I did a lot of research on the internet, reading too many stories about people who don’t recover. I did not enjoy xmas!
Day 4 – Boxing Day
I had a follow up appointment with my GP. He basically said that there was nothing he could do and that the nerves would regenerate, but it could be weeks or months and that there was a small chance of permanent damage. The only good thing was that I had finished the medication and could again breast feed my baby. That afternoon I saw a naturopath, I felt I needed to make sure I was as healthy as I could be in order for my body to repair itself. He gave me some natural supplements. One to kill the virus and an anti-inflammatory. He was confident I would get better which was reassuring.
I had my first ever acupuncture treatment. After reading lots of internet posts about the benefits of acupuncture. They told me to do lots of massage on the face to stimulate the nerves. I was willing to do anything I could to get the nerves in my face to function again. I also saw a chiropractor that day. I always thought chiropractors only cracked bones, but they deal with the nerves of the body. She helped a lot with the balance and coordination problems I was still having. I probably felt my worse this day. There was still no improvement in my face.
No improvement in my face but started to feel better with my balance and coordination. And after a week you tend to adapt and get better at using your face. You get used to new ways of doing things like eating, routinely closing the eye and putting my hand over my mouth when blowing my nose. I also had a change in my thinking. Bells had made me realize that things I worried about before Bells (like wrinkles and a flabby belly) were unimportant. And there are worse conditions to have than Bells. I bet a stroke victim would wish they only had Bells!
I would look in the mirror often but there was no obvious change. However, family members were telling me I looked a lot better.
Day 9 – 10
New Years Eve. Started to see small improvements. I also started to feel very small tingling sensations in my face.
Another acupuncture appointment. My eye is easier to close.
Felt like I was 85% recovered after just 2 weeks. My smile is almost same on both sides and didn’t need to use a straw to drink. Eating was almost normal. I can blink again!
By week 3, I was fully recovered. And felt great from a healthier lifestyle. This illness is more frustrating from not being able to use parts of your face that you normal don’t have to think about. My advice to anyone suffering from Bells Palsy is to try to get sleep so that your body can repair itself. I think the acupuncture and chiropractor helped speed up recovery. Look after your body with anti-inflammatory foods or supplements. Try not to stress. Bell’s Palsy is only temporary, you will recover. Its just a matter of time.
Thank you! I'm on day 3.