When Life Throws Its Shit at You…

Once my parents left to go back to the States, I had planned on getting back into my workout regime and healthy eating. When the Monday came around that I was going to get back to work, I meant to get up early and get my work out in to start the week off to a good start.

The thing is, I woke up feeling so lethargic. Which is understandable. I hadn’t been eating the absolute best and it had been a week since I had last officially worked out. And it was a Monday getting back to work after a week and a half holiday. I figured I would try again the next day.

I woke up on both Tuesday and Wednesday feeling absolute rubbish. And something did feel wrong to me. I was having a lot of trouble falling asleep at night which, considering how tired I was throughout the day, just didn’t make sense.

I noticed Wednesday morning that my tongue felt like it was numb and I couldn’t taste anything on the left side. I texted my dad who is a dentist to see if he knew why this could be and this is when he wrote back telling me it didn’t sound like anything familiar to him but he didn’t like it at all. He told me to give it a day or two and then go to a doctor if it didn’t go away. And that was my plan until later that night.

I was a bit on edge because something did not feel right. I had been trying to pay close attention to my body for quite a few months now and I knew it was telling me something. I was sitting on my bed talking to D about it all and he could tell I was getting increasingly worried. I went to brush my teeth before I got in bed to read for a bit. This is when I noticed that when I went to spit out the toothpaste in the sink, my lips only went to the right side. No matter how hard I tried, my lips wouldn’t purse in the middle like usual. Needless to say, I started freaking out. I started crying and sweating and I knew something bad was happening. He calmed me down and told me it would be fine, that I should just get ready for bed and in the morning, we’d make an appointment to see the doctor. So I got in bed to read for a bit. After reading the first two pages, I noticed my left eye was blinking at a massively slower speed than my right. I immediately got out of bed and ran into the living room and told D that whatever was happening was getting worse and I wanted to go to the hospital.

So we did.

It was 9pm on April 11th when we got to the emergency room. It wasn’t until around 1am until we were called back to see a doctor. A few nurses saw me before hand to check me over to decide if I needed to see the doctor earlier versus later. The fact that they let me wait awhile made us feel better as we knew this wasn’t a terrible emergency and that I’d be okay. But even so, the not knowing was scary and intimidating. We were knackered. I had taken a sleeping pill to help me fall asleep before deciding to go to the hospital and I had to sit in that waiting room fighting it off.

When I finally got to see the doctor he did all the physical tests checking if I had possibly had a stroke as it was clear now that the left side of my face had been paralysed, which to the untrained eye, did look like a stroke. But a stroke is rare for someone who’s my age and in good health. That’s when he brought up the idea that it could be Bell’s Palsy, which funnily enough, is the first thing D said he thought it was back at home. Since there is no sure test to decipher if it is Bell’s Palsy, he had to run a bunch of different tests to eliminate some of the worst conditions it could have been.

I had my blood drawn, a CT scan of my head, and an X-ray of my abdomen all within an hour of first seeing the doctor. Then we were taken to an area to wait for another hour for the results.

Throughout this time, the doctor seemed pretty positive this was Bell’s Palsy and not anything more serious. I had all motor control, it was just the left side of my face that had lost movement. Regardless, this was a scary time for both D and I. We sat there holding hands while a nurse kept coming over to chat with us and make really funny jokes. We spent the waiting time in pretty good spirits given the seriousness of the situation. Around 4am, the doctor came over to tell me that the test results had come back and there were no abnormalities, as he expected.

Meaning, I had been diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy.

For those of you who don’t know what Bell’s Palsy is, I will try my best to tell you. Essentially, you get some sort of virus and/or undergone a lot of stress and it attacks the nerves responsible for one side of the face. This is why I lost taste on my tongue, why my mouth would only move to one side, and why I lost the ability to blink my left eye. There have been some studies that have linked some viral infections to the condition, the main one talked about is the herpes virus. Now I really feel the need to tell you all: I do not have herpes. Never have I ever gotten a cold sore or anything similar. I am so afraid of herpes, it was one of the first things I’d ask guys before I started dating them because I did not want it. With that being said, there are other viral infections linked to Bell’s Palsy but there really is no way to know which one I had. Or maybe this was all brought on by stress, which is a possibility.

Regardless, the most important part to all of this is that it is not life-threatening, the paralysis is temporary, and I should never get this again in the future.

Photo Apr 16, 2 39 10 PM
My normal face. You can see my left eyebrow droops a bit.

The doctor prescribed me two different kinds of meds: anti-virals and steroids. The anti-virals were obviously to get rid of the virus that caused the Palsy. And the steroids were to help regrow the nerves that had been damaged from the virus.

On Day 4 of the medication, I had started to feel twitching in my face. When I looked that up, it meant that the nerves were starting to repair themselves which is a really good sign. And the fact that it was happening on only Day 4 is also really positive news.

After reading up on Bell’s Palsy, some people can have facial paralysis for up to 9 months. But the doctor said that because I came to the hospital directly after seeing symptoms and got treated immediately, it should help speed up the recovery time. He told me about 4-6 weeks and I am crossing my fingers for that.

Now that it is Day 7 Post Palsy (this is what D and I are calling it now) I am feeling pretty good. I have taken almost a whole week off of work to recuperate and get used to the fact that people will be staring at my face in public. I had wanted to hide for the first few days and felt terribly embarrassed because this is not who I am. But I knew I couldn’t hide forever. And it is not in my character to hide from people. Except on days when I just can’t handle humans, but that has nothing to do with my face and everything to do with my patience levels.

Photo Apr 16, 2 43 52 PM
When I try to smile…

I can really only drink out of a straw, and if I try drinking out of a normal glass, I just end up pouring it all over my face and chin.

Eating is a challenge. I can’t really open my mouth all the way and I don’t have a lot of strength on the left side of my mouth to chew so it takes me ages to eat and yes, I get food all over my face. Let me tell you, I have gotten increasingly more attractive Post Palsy…. LOL

I have to constantly remember to manually close my left eye as it can’t blink on its own. You do not want your eye drying out as it can be painful and cause eye infections. So I also have to tape it shut when I want to sleep, and tape it up all the way when I shower or wash my face. This is probably the most annoying part of Bell’s Palsy. I am constantly annoyed by my left eye. And if any of you know me well, you know how much I hate eyeballs. I find them disgusting. And I have to spend way too much time fondling mine, for my liking.

Photo Apr 16, 2 40 49 PM
I am making faces here, don’t be disturbed

I do have very sensitive hearing in my left ear which is a side effect of Bell’s Palsy and I do tend to get a bad headache in the evening which is a side effect of the steroids. Other than that, there’s not much else to it.

I feel fine. I feel normal. I am sleeping normal again. I have gotten back to working out. I am back to eating healthy again. I have taken advantage of having time off work to spend lots of time fussing for the blog, cleaning the flat, and taking some much needed time to relax at home. My spirits are quite good under the circumstances.

The way I look at it is this: Shit happens. There is absolutely no way we can control life. And when it comes to something like this, there was no way I could have predicted it and no way I could have prevented it from happening. And we did everything right. We went to the hospital, we got the meds in time, and I’ve been resting. The only thing left to do is wait to get better. But in the meantime, I don’t want to sit here and feel sorry for myself. My life isn’t over. My normal face will come back soon and this will all be behind me. So what’s the point of sitting here sad and terrified of leaving the house?

Trust me, there are far worse things that could have happened and I’m glad it was something that can easily be fixed and is only temporary.

Photo Apr 16, 2 40 30 PM

And if nothing else, it’s really shown me a lot about my friends and family. The amount of love I have had from people is so heartwarming. All of D’s friends and family have called to check in and see how I was doing. The friends I have told have been amazing. My best friend, who was on holiday at the time of the incident, made it a point to come over for a visit after work when she got back to see me. A lot of my family members back home reached out to me just to check in and make sure I was doing fine.

But the one person who has gotten me through all of this with a smile on my face has been my wonderful boyfriend. He sat there with me the entire night reassuring me I would be okay. He took me to get my meds and made sure that I was emotionally alright before going to work. Then, as his boss told him to leave early as he looked so knackered, he stopped off at the shops on his way home and bought me a gorgeous bouquet of roses and lilies, a ton of snacks, eye drops, and tape. Then we sat on the couch the rest of the evening watching The Great British Bake Off and laughing at all the faces and imitations I could do now Post Palsy. Talk about being the luckiest girl in the world to have found a man who makes her feel just as amazing as I feel when half of my face isn’t paralysed.

I’ve gotten a lot of comments about how well I am taking this. A lot of people are saying that they can’t believe I’m in such a good mood and they’re shocked at how positive I’ve been throughout this. And after giving it some thought, the main reason for this is because of D. If I had gotten Bell’s Palsy when I was back in Michigan living alone, I think I would have fallen apart. Not only would I have been desperate to get some comfort from D living so far away, but I wouldn’t have been able to take all the (paid) sick days I needed from work to recuperate. And being alone in my apartment would probably have driven me to be depressed. If this happened this time last year, I don’t know how I would have handled it but I know it would have been 1000x worse.

That is why I can objectively look at my condition right now and know that I am okay. And I will be even better off for it.

Photo Apr 16, 2 41 13 PM

I want to thank everyone who has been so supportive and sent all their love my way. It has meant a great deal to both me and D.

I will keep you all updated on my progress. Just send some happy thoughts my way as I hope to get my full face back as soon as I possibly can! I miss taking all my selfies, damnit! 😛

Much Much Much Love to You All