Bell's Palsy Update: Starting Week No. 2

Today I laughed...and ate soup without choking. Progress, you ask? Well, the eternal optimist who resides in my soul says "I sure hope so." It's Day 8 of this nightmare called Bell's Palsy, and I'm really ready to see some progress, however small it may seem.

Since I feel like smiling...although at present, it's only half of a smile with half of my face...I decided that the exercises* I would add to my Facial Exercise routine would be focused upon SMILING:


4. Smile without showing teeth; then smile showing teeth.

5. Try moving your lips into a small smile slowly. Then gently pucker slowly using equal strength from both sides.

6. Using your index finger and thumb pull the corners of your lips in toward the center. Slowly and smoothly push out and up into a smile. Continue the movement up to the cheekbone. Use a firm pressure.


With the three exercises from yesterday's list, that gives me a solid routine...one that I can easily do multiple times each day. My sweet suitemate, KD, says she believes faithfully doing the facial exercises were key to her own recovery from Bell's.

And because I seem to have been able to control my jaw pain with massage, heat, and a topical NSAID cream called Voltaren Gel (prescribed for joint and back pain due to arthritis), I am able to do these exercises without too much extra tenderness. If it begins to hurt, I stop. The main thing? I feel like I'm doing something...you know?

[A funny aside: the original prescription for Voltaren came from Momma's pain management doctor in Missouri, Dr. V, who also treated me for my back pain...and I received a scrip for it, too. When we moved to NC, Momma got another prescription from her neurologist...but I let mine expire. Well, her insurance required her to receive a 90-day supply of her long-term meds from mail order...and this stuff would arrive by the box-loads. When she died, we found a mountain of Voltaren stored in a small dresser. Now, I'm ever-so-thankful...:~\]

Progress...however small or slight...allows me to believe that there are better days, just over my horizon. And because I believe this, I can think about life returning to normal.

And "normal" for me in July means shopping for Daylilies. Two years ago, we made the rounds of open sales at Daylily farms in NC, purchasing quite a few varieties for the Way Back Garden. Here is one of those, Alabama Jubilee, in bloom this year.


So, why should this July be any different? Just because I am 400 miles from home...and half of my face is paralyzed? Nah. I can't let those obstacles stand in my way of moving forward, can I?

Mr. T and I, with Missy M's assistance, have researched local Daylily farms, and we've located two within driving distance that sound promising. They are both open later on this week, and I have my heart set on seeing this through.

The problem? I'm still struggling with how I look and sound to others. I did make one foray to Walgreen's and one to CVS...but pharmacies don't count, since there's probably some expectation of some degree of incapacitation. No, the only real "test" was a trip to Walmart's Neighborhood Market (a really neat place, dedicated to groceries and a pharmacy...not at all like a regular Walmart Super Center), where I wore my sunglasses, spoke to no one, and did self-checkout. Anonymous.

[Reminds me of a great line in Mission Impossible, spoken by Vanessa Redgrave as Max, where she says "anonymity is like a warm blanket."]

No...going to a Daylily Farm, where I will need to see colors, read descriptions, ask questions, and be "among the crowd," will be a real test for me, both physically and emotionally. Am I up to it? Hmmm.

Toward that end, and in hopes of encouraging another Bell's Palsy sufferer who has wandered into my world looking for a kindred spirit, I am posting a "before" shot and a couple of the "at one week" photos I took yesterday.

Regular readers will probably recognize the "before" picture from this past Christmas. I chose it because it was taken the last time I was here in Louisville. Appropriate, huh?


The next two pictures were taken with my iPad in front of the bathroom mirror on Day 7. I was following a protocol of documentation photos I found on the Bell's Palsy Support site on Facebook. The moderator took shots including no smile, attempting to smile not showing teeth, attempting to smile showing teeth, and attempting to raise both eyebrows (which tracks the neurological tests they give you prior to diagnosis). These are least-worst of the bunch, trust me.




I have a long way to go, don't I?


My intention is to encourage others...not cause anyone any discomfort...and to start preparing myself for going back out into the world and doing things I love.

In other words...moving forward. Making progress.

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* Source for the Facial Exercises mentioned is: http://www.bellspalsy.ws/exercise.htm


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