...has Bell's Palsy. Last Thursday was C's last day of school. As I dropped him off in the morning for his end of year field trip, I mentioned to a friend that my tongue felt weird. It was kind of numb on both sides and that my coffee tasted "off" that morning. I didn't think much about it for the rest of the day (although the taste thing was still wonky) and we finished the school year with a bang and a slushy drink and a farewell to most until next year.
That night after dinner, I already had the beginnings of a headache and an hour later was in full migraine mode. I popped some meds, had a hot shower and hit the hay pretty hard. When I woke up in the morning, the headache was still there. I gave the kids
full reign of Netflix on my iPad a carefully screened movie to watch and fell asleep for another hour. When I finally dragged by sorry head out of bed, I went straight to the shower and spent another 20 minutes trying to steam/soak/spray the ache-y pain away.
When I was finally fully awake and looked at myself in the mirror, it wasn't pretty. I figured things just looked a little "off" because of the massive post-migraine bags under my eyes. And then I went to lick my lips and well, I kind of couldn't. It felt as if I had just had dental work done and the freezing was slowing starting to come out. I could feel touch, but there was some weird numbness and a definite lack of movement in parts of my face.
I chalked up all of these wonky symptoms to the migraine, text-ed my husband about it and just hoped they would go away soon enough.
They did not. And I started to freak out a bit. I checked in with Dr. Google and I was all of a sudden on a medMD page about Hemiplegic Migraines and starting to get more and more concerned. I text-ed B again, proceeded with our plans for the day and took the kids to their summer hair cut appointment.
My anxiety was growing as was the numbness in my face and after a few calls back and forth between B, myself, and my in-laws, within the hour the kids had new do's, they were hanging out with my brother-in-law and I was registered in the emergency room of the hospital. Neurology was called and I was starting to calm down.
By this point, between Dr. Google, my husband and the help of some Twitter pals, I was pretty sure about what was going on and just needed the "official" diagnosis from Neurology. Which came after a relatively short stay in the emergency room and a nice nap thanks to the "courtesy" migraine cocktail the emergency doctor thought couldn't really hurt.
I did indeed have Bell's Palsy.
What exactly is Bell's Palsy you ask? Well, here you go (info from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders)...
Bell's palsy is a form of temporary facial paralysis resulting from damage or trauma to the facial nerves. The facial nerve-also called the 7th cranial nerve-travels through a narrow, bony canal (called the Fallopian canal) in the skull, beneath the ear, to the muscles on each side of the face. For most of its journey, the nerve is encased in this bony shell.
Each facial nerve directs the muscles on one side of the face, including those that control eye blinking and closing, and facial expressions such as smiling and frowning. Additionally, the facial nerve carries nerve impulses to the lacrimal or tear glands, the saliva glands, and the muscles of a small bone in the middle of the ear called the stapes. The facial nerve also transmits taste sensations from the tongue.
When Bell's palsy occurs, the function of the facial nerve is disrupted, causing an interruption in the messages the brain sends to the facial muscles. This interruption results in facial weakness or paralysis.
Bell's palsy occurs when the nerve that controls the facial muscles is swollen, inflamed, or compressed, resulting in facial weakness or paralysis. Exactly what causes this damage, however, is unknown.
Most scientists believe that a viral infection such as viral meningitis or the common cold sore virus—herpes simplex—causes the disorder. They believe that the facial nerve swells and becomes inflamed in reaction to the infection, causing pressure within the Fallopian canal and leading to ischemia (the restriction of blood and oxygen to the nerve cells). In some mild cases (where recovery is rapid), there is damage only to the myelin sheath of the nerve. The myelin sheath is the fatty covering-which acts as an insulator-on nerve fibers in the brain.
The prognosis for individuals with Bell's palsy is generally very good. The extent of nerve damage determines the extent of recovery. Improvement is gradual and recovery times vary. With or without treatment, most individuals begin to get better within 2 weeks after the initial onset of symptoms and most recover completely, returning to normal function within 3 to 6 months. For some, however, the symptoms may last longer. In a few cases, the symptoms may never completely disappear. In rare cases, the disorder may recur, either on the same or the opposite side of the face.
It's been a week. It has not gotten any worse, which the neurologist says is the best news. He also laughed at me when I told him I was frustrated that it has not gotten any better yet. Seems THAT is not going to happen for a few weeks (or months). Treatment has been some pretty high dose steroids and anti-virals and I am going to go see my acupuncturist this week for some pain relief and general help to, as she puts it, "move the wind".
The most important factor in treatment is protection of the affected eye. I don't know if it will get worse at this point and if I will need to upgrade to an eyepatch, but since wearing contact lenses (and thus sunglasses) is out for the summer, I have been stocking up on hats this week to keep my eye protected while out and about. I have also invested in a fancy pair of over the glasses granny goggles for driving. Oh, yes, people, BP is all kinds of sexy!!
On the plus side, drinking wine (or any beverage for that matter) now involves a straw, so I bought a jumbo pack of rainbow ones just for me! And as I found out last weekend, half a bottle of Skinny Girl, plus another glass or two of white wine makes both sides of my face feel almost equally numb!
So if you see me and I am covering my mouth or trying not to laugh too much (seriously, it hurts to laugh and I look positively evil when I do and then I laugh harder, and look even more like a deranged monkey, so really, it's just not pleasant for anyone), please excuse me.
I have the Palsy.
And NO, I am not winking at you!