Bell's Palsy Update - Week 3 Begins

Day 15 came. Day 15 went. I still have Bell's Palsy. The End.

No, not really. I had wanted to put a period on this chapter of my life in the minimum amount of time that the Doctor had said back on June 24 ("...15 days, one month, or the rest of your life..."), but that was not to be. The Nightmare on Franelm Road continues.

Big sigh.

Mr. T took me back to the Dr. for a follow-up yesterday, and because of scheduling, I saw a different physician. He asked us lots of questions and seemed both knowledgeable about the progression of BP and genuinely interested in me. He said he was not going to continue the antiviral acyclovir, since "if this was started by a virus," that med had done whatever it needed to do in the 15-day prescription I'd just completed.

He did increase my prednisone dramatically though, by changing me to a dose-pack, similar to what I've taken in the past for a bad reaction to poison ivy. So, starting today, instead of 10 mg of the anti-inflammatory, I'll be taking 60 mg...yowza! I'll do that for 3 days, then taper back off to 10 mg after 12 days. Hauling out the Big Guns!

After hearing about my jaw pain and localized headache (behind my left ear), he decided to add 300 mg/day of Neurotin (also known as Gabapentin), for nerve pain. I've taken that before, with no ill effects...10 years ago, between the time they diagnosed my herniated disc had collapsed onto my nerve, and my back surgery to alleviate that problem. Just makes me sleepy, but that will probably play right into Mr. T's "plan."

He, like I, has been seeking any and all information on Bell's Palsy that is "out there." Some of it is good, research-based stuff. Some of it is, well, stuff. A common theme flowing through almost all of the research and medical advice is REST. And Mr. T doesn't believe that I get enough rest to help manage my BP much less facilitate a "cure." Reading, playing Words With Friends, or posting to my blog do NOT constitute "resting" in his definition. He's probably right.

"Hello, my name is Patricia, and I am a non-napper."

It's true. I don't know how to nap. Never learned the proper technique of power napping ("20-30 minutes, no more, will relax your body and restore your energy level")...nor was I ever really encouraged to nap or rest.

True story here. As a colicky baby, the only way my folks could get me to nap was put me in a car and drive around for an hour or so. Of course, that didn't allow Momma to get a nap either if she had to drive the car, so this became Papaw's job. He would finish his mail route in Henning at 2:00 or so (where he was a Rural Letter Carrier, long before my Daddy got that job), drive the 50 or so miles to my parents' little apartment on South Parkway East in Memphis (uh, I wouldn't advise going there today...:-), pick up his screaming granddaughter (that would be moi), put me in the front seat of his big, town car (as opposed to what he called his "field car," the one he used on the Route), and ride me around until supper time. I'd calm down, take a little snooze, wake up happy and enjoy the rest of the ride. He got tired of driving just around Shelby County, so we'd sometimes go over the bridge to Arkansas, back across the River and down to Mississippi, out to the farm in Hardeman County to check on his hunting dogs or his horse, or all the way to Dyer, Tennessee to get his favorite BBQ. This explains so much, and not just about "Why I Can't Nap:"

1. Why I love to "go for a ride."
2. Why I love to go "places," and 50 miles or so is "just a stretch of the legs."
3. Why I can fall asleep in a car...and awake refreshed.
4. Why I was steering a car before the age of 5...ahem. But that's a story for another day...:~\

Take that information, and add to the facts that:

1. At home, I would always take a book to bed with me and READ instead of napping, as I got older.
2. Momma, who hated idleness as much as Chaucer*, equated both napping and reading to being idle...and lazy...and would invariably come in my room and say "well, if you are just going to lay there and read, you ought to get up AND DO SOMETHING." Trust me, there was ALWAYS a lengthy To Do List around our house.

...and it's not much of a stretch to understand why I don't nap.

[Don't you find it amusing that, as she aged, Momma became a great napper and a reader? I struggled to keep her in books from the library and the bookstore! And, she said one of the reasons she loved to watch baseball so much was that she could watch the first couple of innings, take a nap through the next 4-5 innings...and still have plenty of game to watch when she woke up.]


We are all noticing positive changes about my bout with Bell's. My lower jaw is "unlocking," allowing me the ability to chew and to speak more clearly...and with less effort. My top teeth and surrounding structures are a tiny bit less-numb each day it seems, allowing my "bite" to align properly...and thus facilitating the chewing and speech processes. I am having fewer attacks of what I can only describe as cramps in my jaw.

I still have a drooping left eyelid and a half-smile, and I still need to wear my eyepatch or tape because my eyelid doesn't close on its own...or stay closed...or respond to the blink reflex. So, outwardly, I guess I appear the same. And I'm still super-sensitive to light and sounds. Dr. E said yesterday "3 months" until I get those nerve functions back to normal...and then he hedged his bets with the "of course, there are some cases that return and a few that continue for a lifetime." You already know what I think of that...

So, I may still be sipping my morning coffee through a straw, but I'm having to hold it to my lips a lot less as they regain some feeling and some "pucker." I can open my mouth wide enough now to eat a banana...without having to slice and dice it into tiny chunks first. I'm leaving my eyepatch off longer and exercising the drooping eyebrow more easily.

Can my whole smile be too many days away?! Why don't I just go take a little nap, now...:~\

*Contrary to popular belief, there is no actual Biblical quote "idle hands are the devil's playground," as I was repeatedly told by Momma and by Ner, my step-great grandmother (who reared Momma from the ages 5-13, along with Momma's little brother Edward Keaton and her second-cousin-once-removed, Marcus Stewart...and who provided a home for a variety of kith and kin out on Velmetta Place, the Stewart farm in Whiteville...and who instilled in me the love of reading and playing Scrabble...and who NEVER spent an idle moment in her life to my knowledge...:~\). Again, explains so much...


It appears that Chaucer is given credit for the first usage, in his "Tale of Melibee":

"IDLE HANDS ARE THE DEVIL'S TOOLS - "Idleness is the root of mischief. This maxim has been traced back to Chaucer's 'Tale of Melibee' (c. 1386). First attested in the United States in 'Collections' (1808). The proverb is found in varying forms:
Satan has some mischief for idle hands to do; The devil finds work (or mischief) for idle hands to do." From "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996). "

As Daddy always said "learn something new everyday!"


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