Bell's Palsy Update - Three Months

That's right, dear readers. It has now been 3 months since that Sunday when it seemed the left half of my face slid off my skull. June 24 to September 24...13 long weeks...91 interminable days. And, it ain't over yet.

Oh, I've come a long way, baby, as they say. My eyebrow droop is barely noticeable to others, I can wink my left eye without too much difficulty, and the blink response is almost completely restored...almost. Thankfully, I no longer need to tape my eyelid closed, nor do I have to deal with the waterfall of tears that poured down my cheek. I say "thankfully" because my 'bad eye' (left) is now my 'good eye,' due to the aggressive progression of the cataract in my right eye. But that's another tale for another day.

I no longer suffer the constant jaw pressure/facial pain, nor am I under the spell of the nerve medicine that alleviated the pain, but robbed me of most of my "waking" hours. Now, I only have that pain when I eat something that requires lots of enthusiastic chewing or when I talk for an extended period.

And, I am no longer using a straw to sip my morning coffee, thank goodness, plus my speech is understandable again by almost all. Yes, eating is much less a chore now, although I'm not 'there' yet. The paralysis lingers on my lower lip, making "open wide!" just a goal at this point. Still, with Tori the Speech Therapist's help, I can now manage a decent whistle, I can pronounce P, B, and F without sounding like I have a mouthful of marbles, and I make progress toward my ultimate goal of a full-toothed smile.

So, tell us something we haven't heard. OK, here goes...

I have been reluctant to be among folks I know because I have struggled with this whole speech-smile-eating in public thing. I am OK with my immediate family (well, they HAVE seen/heard me at my very, very worst, right?), and I have handled trips to the doctors, pharmacy, and rehab center...but "they" are medical professionals and have seen far worse I'm sure.

I am now answering the phone (I didn't for the first two months), and I have started initiating and/or returning calls to friends, family, and clients. (Remember, I am a trainer and a career coach, so struggling to speak and be understood has been doubly frustrating for me...not only embarrassing but also income-limiting.)

But, I made a small step forward this weekend that both encouraged and exhausted me. We returned from our Beach Trip in time to make it to the Duke football game on Saturday ...where we have season tickets. Wouldn't you know it? The Blue Devils were playing our own Memphis Tigers! And prior to the game, we were invited to a meet-&-greet with other Tiger fans, sponsored by the Alumni Association. Bit the bullet and RSVPd affirmatively.

So glad we went, even though it was tough and tiring, trying to watch my words and enunciation...as well as monitor my eating and chewing at a table with people I didn't know. But really, that was the whole point: I didn't know them...they didn't know me...and the likelihood we'd see each other again anytime soon was slim and none. "And Slim left town..." Pah-dum-pum!

Check one more milestone off my list.

Of course, by the time we'd settled into our seats for the game, I was limp as the proverbial dishrag from the efforts. Didn't regain my momentum until halftime...which corresponds almost exactly with the time that the Tigers lost theirs. Their record is now 0-4. Oh well, we've only got one way to go from here, right? Up! (Is it basketball season yet?!). And, the Blue Devils are working on a winning football season...for a change. Yea?

Anyway...

It is no secret that I wanted to be over-&-done with this misery that is Bell's by now. It appears that I will be one of those whose duration with the disease is longer than the oft-quoted "three months." Sigh.

Still, I've survived so far...seen much improvement...and continue to believe that 'normal' is just over that next crest there. So close I can almost feel it! Just a few more days...maybe a week or two. Three more months...tops, she said hopefully.

After all, what's 3 months, I ask you? Just a mere 13 weeks. 91 days. Piece o' cake, right?

Piece o' cake.

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Documentation photo time

Day 91...





...compared to Day 7




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