Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Forcing A Smile (literally)

I awoke this morning to a seemingly normal day... 

As always, I made my way downstairs into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee and a slice of toast for breakfast. 

The girls, already awake, were watching tv in their rooms, so I went about preparing bowls of cereal for them, feeling a bit guilty that I hadn't risen before them on such a beautiful morning.  Summers can be like that... 

My eyes seemed a little puffy from a somewhat restless night.  I'd been having headaches and neck pain for days, and the Tylenol I took before bed took a while to kick in.  Oftentimes, when this happens, I use a paper towel and cold water to soothe my eyes and they always feel better after that.  But not today.

Within moments, an almost numbing sensation crept across my lips.  It felt as if I had just received a Novocain injection in my mouth.  What was going on?  Had I slept wrong?  Had my face had fallen asleep like my arm does sometimes? 

I grabbed a mirror off the wall to investigate this strange sensation...  To my dismay and utter confusion, I could not move one side of my mouth.  I couldn't pucker up!  I returned the mirror to it's rightly place and made myself a cup of coffee.  Surely this was a very temporary thing...  But what was going on??

It took me forever to drink that cup of coffee... 

I went upstairs to brush my teeth, which in itself was a chore and a half.  I found that I could not even spit!  This was getting ridiculous! 

I gazed at myself in the mirror... not quite sure of what to do.  All sorts of thoughts and fears were running through my mind.  Yet within moments, I was laughing it off.  Sure that it was just a freakthing that would subside.

That's when I noticed my eyes.  When I blinked, my right eye stayed completely open.  I tried to force a smile, but the right side of my mouth wouldn't move. 

It wasn't going to be such a normal day after all.


To make my long, five-hours-at-three-different-hospitals-later story short, I have been diagnosed with Bell's Palsy.  A neurological disorder that is caused by damage to the facial nerve.  It can be caused by a virus, but can also be a symptom of Lyme Disease, which I was tested for and will receive the results tomorrow.  I also received a CT scan.  Two actually, because they didn't get it all in there the first time.  I never realized that I was claustrophobic until today.  I had to really focus on not hyperventilating and staying completely still.  I always thought those machines looked so simple.  And REALLY they are, I was just affected differently today and reacted in a very unexpected and fearful way.

This is something that may or may not go away.  And the time frame is varied.  Three out of four BP patients return to normal within 3-6 weeks.  Some take longer.  As I've come to find out, some live with it for many years or longer.

I know that this isn't really life altering like some diagnoses are.  I cannot tell you, how thankful I was, when the nurse who took my scan arrived in the waiting room to tell me I was free to go.  Had it been worse... had it been what they were scanning for...   I can't even imagine.  I was calm and collected as I waited, not allowing myself or my thoughts to even go there. 

So right now, as I sit here with the use of my hands, my watery eye and my forced half smile, I am feeling very blessed indeed.  I felt the need to record and share this day, as it will be the beginning of a journey into the unknown.  A bit uncomfortable, a bit unnerved (literally), but otherwise very, very grateful. 

Thank you...  for reading, for listening and for caring.  Hugs to you all!

            (thanks to the Sazzy one for the tag!)



nhd106 said...

Oh Chelle...how scary!   I'm glad it wasn't a stroke.
I need you to know that a friend of mine...a guy I work with...had Bell's palsy...and although scary, he followed some good advice and it DID go away.   He went for acupuncture.  I will ask him what else he did and get back to you.
My heart goes out to you...but you will be ok.
Sending you as many hugs as I can...


dklars said...

When you were describing the symptoms, that was my very first thought, Bells Palsy.  I have known several people with it in my personal life, and we have several patients who have had it, and all have recovered 100%.  

a2002v2002 said...

Hugs for you! I had a light stroke as a young woman, after going hungry for over a month. Now that was a long fast! It was so strange with only one half of my body working and yes, it was scary! I forced myself to go for walks. I told myself I was going to walk again normally and finally I did. I still remember my one eye always crying. The adventures and surprises of life........ Sunny days ahead for you dear one!....... Ann

queeniemart said...

oh my PRECIOUS friend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am praying RIGHT now.....i am in tears also...worried....i care so much and i know this WILL go away but i can not imagine your fear...if only i had been there to hug you or do anything you needed. If i can do anything, let me know. ANYTHING.

tendernoggle said...

Hi ....I am so sorry that this has came upon you...I am praying it will go away quickly..but i like you am so glad that it is not worse news...My niece had that too, and has recovered from it as far as I know....I am glad that it was not a stroke or cancer...I am praying.
love ya,

redsneakz said...

I got scared as soon as I heard the words "numb mouth."  I'm glad that it's something that doesn't sound very serious.  Let me know how you're faring, k?

rdautumnsage said...

My first thought was you had a mini stroke. I'm sitting here relieved eventually things will go back to normal for you. I can't imagine the fears or worries that must of been going through your mind during the hospital visits. Keeping you in my prayers on the smoke! Wishing you love and peace. Stay safe dear heart. (Hugs) Indigo

radar446 said...

Oh Michelle...I am so sorry to hear this.  Gosh, like you haven't had enough happen in the last few months.  It sounds like you are keeping a stiff upper lip about things (smiling yet?).  Lets keep our fingers crossed that you are in the short time crowd and this clears up in a few weeks.  Sometimes life just doesn't let up does it?

Thinking of you,

fasttrack58 said...

This happened to my mom once and was only temporary, as I am hoping yours will be too...
Special thoughts!
Linda :)

stupidsheetguy said...

That little malady sure gets around. Sorry it found you. My kid brother got hit with it about 2 years ago, as well as a co-worker, and they were both recovered in no time. With all the folks in these parts pulling for you and praying, your recovery is guaranteed!
Please take care of yourself. I know the kind words and positive thoughts aren't the remedy, but you're a great person, so we couldn't offer anything less to you.


siennastarr said...

I have know quite a few people who have had "Bell's Palsy!"  It's very frightening when it happens, because most people think they've had a stroke!  I know I would!  Hopefully, you will be one fo the ones that will overcome this quickly!  Just rest and take it easy!  Let us know how your feeling!

Much love to you, sweetie!


nay0114 said...

I would have been scared to death. I would have thought I had a stroke or something. Glad you found out what is happening and hope you get better soon.
Take care, Chrissie

pippa1116 said...

how terrifying all that must have been for you!  my prayers are with you!

s0ngbird1962 said...

Wow, how freaky that must have been!!  I would have been afraid I was having a stroke....  Glad it was Bells Palsy, instead...   Not that THAT is so great, but like you said, considering some of the other possibilities.  I've known a few people in my life who have had Bells, all have made a full recovery, with the time it took varying.  Hoping you make a full recovery pronto...  (Are you covering your eye at night?)  

helmswondermom said...

I am so glad it was not a stroke.  You stayed so remarkable calm.  I hope that the Bells Palsy is only a temporary thing for you.  Take care!

ksgal3133 said...

Sending you many prayers.


bgilmore725 said...

Oh, Michelle, I came by to see how your summer was going, and had to do a little back tracking to find this entry, to find where you first wrote about the Bell's Palsy. School is about to start, and you have this paralysis in your face. My sister had BP over 25 years ago... I think the worst of it was over in less than a year. Today, she is quite back to her usual self, but it did take awhile. Poor thing. She was raising five kids at the time, and they were all young ones. I pray that your BP does not keep you down. I'm glad it wasn't a stroke. I would have feared that. Are you going to return to the classroom? The only thing that really was noticed on my sister's face was her smile. She had half a smile. Whenever she talks about it now, she refers to it as "when I had my Bell's Palsy"... it was a specific time period in her life that was marked by the effects of the virus. May you have a speedy and uneventful recovery! Bea