Learning to Blink

Eye cloud, Brick eyebrow

Bell’s Palsy is supposed to be a diagnosis of exclusion but reading this trumpeter’s (link died) description convinced me. I’m finding it quite disconcerting to look in a mirror, attempt to raise both eyebrows and see only one of them move. The numbness on one side of my mouth is similar to the way it feels when a dental anesthetic is wearing off, so annoying when drinking. I can only manage half a smile. The worse thing is having to protect my right eye. It’s not blinking so I have to remember to do some “manual” closing to stop it drying out. It’s making me think about all the stuff I do automatically. I like to think that I often take photographs without thinking too much but it’s nowhere near as unthinking as blinking.

Old Comments

The comments from the previous WordPress blog, in reverse order, so start at the bottom.

Gary: Thanks to everyone for all the comments.

Here’s a site with lots of information about Bell’s and this is their facial exercises page

and here’s a BBC article

Good luck.

jill fiengo: my son got Bells palsey for the first time when he was about 7 yrs old his face never completely recovered. Then just tonight he is now 11 he started to complain about ear pain testerday and today and then at dinner his face began to droop and his eye he felt the tingling sensation and is now very upset about this. It is so upsetting to see tis happening not to mention that I’m so worried that he will gain further permanent residual effects. I’m so sad for my boy.

jill: Hi, i got bells Aug. 26, 2004. I noticed that morning the side of my right tongue felt funny, almost sore, and my right jaw joint was hurting, about 4 pm the whole right side of my face was paralyzed. Talk about scared!!! I went to the emergency room and the doctor did some motor tests, the last one he asked me to do was to wrinkle my forehead, which I couldn’t. He said that most stroke victims can still wrinkle their foreheads, so he knew i had bells. I did the steroids for a week and an anti-viral. Reading some of your posts seems to give me hope, I was trying to get an idea of how long it normally takes to get most of the functions back. thanks for letting me ramble on. God Bless

jacque: please email to above address - thanks.

My husband went into the hospital last night after noticing the right side of his mouth and eye were drooping. They kept him overnight, and in the morning (today) pronounced it bell’s palsy, possibly due to lyme disease. Here’s the rub: I am a wreck. I’m trying to be fine in front of him but I’m so worried that it was actually a mini-stroke. How do they know for sure? He had a cat scan and blood tests is this enough to know?

thanks for your advice and good luck to everyone.

brian: I had bells palsey in 1982 when I was 20, It started about 10am when i noticed that one side of my tounge felt strange .like when when you have been to the dentist. By 3pm the whole side of my face had completly droped, i managed to see a doctor the same day and he told me what it was . I had all the symptoms like not being able to shut my eye at night to slurping when drinking my pint of beer. lucky for me I recovered in about two weeks, thank god…..I was left with a slight difference on one side of my face when I smile . Anyone who has this I feel for you and hope you make a full recovery.

Jean: I have had this horrible thing for almost 6 months. I knew what it was when I woke up in the morning but it was still a shock. I am going to start physical t. next week, hopefully that will help. I am beginning to look a bit more like myself. I, like the rest of you, would not wish this upon my worst enemy. But, I try to keep a positive attitude. I am a teacher and my students help me everyday because they like me no matter what I look like. Good luck to you all and thank you for sharing your stories.

Debbie: I have had bells for over 2years it was really bad in the begining it is just learning to live with it i use nuro stimulation everyday which as helped also physio i still cannot smile my eye shuts but still waters when eatng i have had synkinesis which has not help my recovery my face looks quite even with the good side even though i have not got much movement

sal: Gary,I managed to contract Bells Palsey for my eighteenth Birthday. That was twenty five years ago.I had a very bad case which lasted for me a period of twelve months.Eating with a straw, eyepatch and artificial tears to stop the dryness in my eye.I’m a registered nurse and when the onset was occurring I was at work I kept asking people around me if my face was smiling properly I felt so silly.My main asset in those days was my smile and the fact it was so infectious.It knocked my self esteem as I was so outgoing.I still have days if I’m tired that my leftside of my face will drop slightly but I still keep going.So just make the most of what you have and remember its what is in the heart that matters…………….regards sal

Gary: Thanks Mac It seems I was lucky - I was back to 100% within a month. Best wishes

John U: I came down with Bells Palsey 5 weeks ago and it is quite annoying. I can close my right eye but only when the left eye is closed and even then I have to sort of touch the right eye lid to get it to close. It seems strange to drink everything with a straw but not much I can do about that. In my work I am suppose to carry a firearm and I have found it difficult to qualify as my eye keeps drying out and I have to massage the right eyelid to keep it moist. Has anyone heard of any possitive results using Acyclovir which is a herpes medication. Also has anyone had any possitive results with vitamins B12 and B6? Anyway just have to keep pushing forward with the hope that it will vanish as quickly as it appeared.

Dave Small: Gary I came down with Bells Palsey about 15yrs ago.it was a shock seeing my mouth at a 40% angle. But that overtime is much better.The dryness in the eye although much improved still bothers me.But with good eye drops,Ilearned to live with it. How long has this been bothering you? It clears up with most people in a relativly short time. I made the mistake of taking a trip to the Arizona desert shortly after I was diagnosed. The dryness was hell on my eye. Never again. We should have a category for crap people leave on the street.

Mac W: Hi Gary, I was diagnosed with a severe case of Bell Palsy almost 2 yrs ago, (Oct 14, 2001). I was put on steroids for only 1 week, and was told that time was the next factor for a recovery. Although I’ve met other people that has had it, they said that their symptoms lasted anywhere from a week to 2 to 3 months. Although I’ve had some recovery noted, I still get the tightness around the cheek and eye area. I can blink, but I have weak motor skills around the mouth and in the brow area. Unlike Dave I have the excessive tearing, especially when I eat. I realize it could be worse, but I wouldn’t wish this condition on anyone, (except Bin Laden). May God bless.

Gary: Thanks for that Kevin. I think having only half a working face is enough to induce paranoia so I’m avoiding the drugs. I’m hoping it’s peaked, in which case it sounds like I don’t have it as bad as you got it. I have a very weak left eye which tends to stay open when shooting so, depending on the viewfinder postion, it can be useful for peripheral vision.

bjorke: Early one Saturday morning about four years ago I awoke with Courtney and as I rose I thought she was just the most adorable creature on the planet. I raised my hands to pantomime that I was taking her picture with an “air camera” – and at that moment discovered that I was quite unable to close my left eye. What the hell? Half an hour later I read about Bell’s Palsy on the web and three hours later had an MD confirm the self-diagnosis. She prescribed steroids to reduce the swelling (brought on by a cold combined with pressure from snorkeling) – the only time I’ve ever taken medication where the “possible side effects” pamphlet ended its list with “paranoia, insanity, death.” Oh well. I sent out an email to the people I worked with to assure them that I had not experienced a stroke – I had just the usual amount of brain damage, Everyone was quite supportive (especially Courtney). I had to tape my left eye shut to sleep for a couple of weeks, and use thick gel-like eyedrops. I had to learn to shoot with with my left eye (since it wouldn’t close) or w/both eyes open. After a while almost all of the function returned, though I’m still unable to smile 100% symetrically. Most people don’t notice, however – they just figure my constant smirk comes from arrogance :)

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