Dog Days of Summer Indeed

Time for a bit of catching up. I've been absent from my blog, but not entirely checked out. Truth-be-told, I've been in GA for the better part of the past month, so let me take a few paragraphs to recap.

The short version is that I've been dog-sitting for Missy M, who has been "on the road again," or rather "in the air again," all for work. 

Ella Rae and Dixie on the sofa

Abbie in the chair...

Winston and Abbie share the sofa...most unusual...

Dixie and ER...back on the sofa...

The long version is that I took advantage of my extended time here to catch up with friends, to do a little work (coaching), and to start down a new path regarding my bout with Bell's Palsy.

It all began with a phone call. I think I told you in an earlier post that I had stumbled upon an "old friend" offering a "new way" of dealing with the residual effects of BP. Yes, I once received excellent treatment for benign positional vertigo in the form of vestibular rehabilitation training at the Atlanta Ear Clinic; so you can imagine I was thrilled to learn that the same therapist also offered facial muscle paralysis retraining (which is my last, best hope of overcoming the synkinesis and facial muscle spasms I have). Hallelujah! I couldn't dial the number fast enough to get an appointment! 

Of course, I should have known their first appointment would be months away, rather than days or weeks. Sigh. Oh well, the months have passed since June, August has arrived, and (being a bit over eager) I showed up 30 minutes early for my first appointment (of three currently scheduled). 

Again, I should have known. It isn't going to be quite as easy as I'd blithely anticipated. Double sigh. The first appointment with Dr. C revolved around taking my history (of my Bell's Palsy battles) and getting some baseline data. And therein lay the land mine. 

She began by using a device called an ELECTROMYOGRAPH (or EMG), which is described as "a system of using surface electrodes placed over (facial) muscles" to "detect and amplify the electrical potentials of the muscles", transmitting the information "to a computer where the messages are converted into graphs." The EMG not only takes the baseline data, it will also be used in the facial muscle retraining exercises. For the first test, she placed the electrodes on either side of my mouth in order to be able to compare the readings for the left (affected) side of my face with the right (unaffected) side. So far, so good.

When she fired up the computer program, however, she apparently began getting a high reading, indicating a good deal of "electrical activity," even though I hadn't done any of the test yet. Hmmm. She asked if I had a cell phone in my pocket? No, it was in my purse across the room. Was I having a facial spasm at the time? No! I would have felt it...right?!?


So we started the testing. She had me pucker my lips and hold the pucker for an extended amount of time, then she showed me the resulting reading and graph. Left side showed up "weaker" than the right, as expected. We did the pucker exercise three times before moving to the next one: smiling.

To start this one, she said "smile real big, showing lots of teeth. Hold it, hold it, hold it! Release!" Same results. Left weaker response than right. Again: smile real big...


Almost immediately into the second smile, the facial muscle below my left jawline and down my neck locked into a terrifically painful spasm. Oh. My. Heavens. I was crying, it hurt so much. I guess the EMG had been picking up this anticipated spasm as increased "activity."

Dr. C removed the electrodes, saying "I think we got what we needed." She also said she was sorry I was in such pain, but that it really was fortunate that she had been able to record the spasm. I probably looked a tad skeptical about the "fortunate" part. Ahem.

And then came the question that took my mind off my current pain. "Has anyone talked to you about using Botox?" Not really, although I have read about it in some of the research on facial muscle paralysis. I've also read about the side effects (facial muscle paralysis). Why would one use something to "cure" a problem that can "cause" the very same problem? Seems counterintuitive to me. Oh, and did I mention it is delivered via NEEDLES?

Well, until my facial muscles can "relax" enough (which is what the Botox would do), I won't get much (if any) benefit from the retraining exercises. Bummer. 

So now I have a decision to make. To Botox or not to Botox? That is the question. Thinking, thinking, thinking. Researching, researching, researching. And, since I'm already scheduled for a regular visit to my GP, I'll get his opinion before I proceed. 

Meanwhile, I'm doing the facial exercises that Dr. C gave me to practice at home. Gently. Slowly. Deliberately. I almost always set off a spasm if I get too enthusiastic with the motions...especially the BIG SMILE, SHOW TEETH one.  And we shall see at my next appointment with her whether I've loosened up the tension in my jaw. We shall see...

We welcomed Mr. T back here yesterday, after keeping his Outlander between the lines for a couple of weeks. He stopped in HPNC over last weekend, doing a little yardening and making sure all is well while we are gone. He met a friend from his pre-high school days this morning, catching up and washing away several years. He is getting his dental work done before we exit GA, in compliance with his new orthopedic surgeon's directive. Yes, T is now scheduled for knee replacement surgery next month...more on this in my next post. Glad he will finally be getting relief from this ongoing issue...and also glad he will have no more bad knees to fix!

And in reporting other health news: I continue to wear my splint to deal with another flare of the DeQuervain's tendinitis (left wrist...need to schedule another cortisone shot, I suppose...NEEDLE!), and I've recovered from a recent "back attack." Limiting my gardening activities by not being in HPNC will probably be the best med for both of those...although maybe not the best for the garden itself.

Lest you think I've completely shut down with "gardening," please know that I have kept busy with:

— Creating and refining a couple of PowerPoint presentations for my two sessions at the International Master Gardener Conference, scheduled for September 22-25 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Now, that should be an Adventure for this Adsit, for certain!

— Writing...including an article that appeared in the local paper. Check it out here: 

From Our Gardens: What is a Master Gardener? - Home -

Keeps one's fingers in the pie, so to speak. Ah well...

I do believe I hear the dogs barking in the backyard. Of course, with 4 in residence, one (or more) is ALWAYS barking in the backyard. Better get back to my intended purpose here...minding the dogs in these final days of Summer.

Dog days, indeed.


I missed the first time that the machine measuring the nerve activity (and pain!) was called EMG. Ironic?

Also realized there are times when Abbie's not Up To Something - occasionally she sleeps :-)

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