Showing posts with label Bell's Palsy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bell's Palsy. Show all posts

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bell's Palsy and the Flu Shot

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Exactly a week before I came down with Bell's Palsy, we all got a flu shot.  I normally don't get a flu shot.  We normally take the kids to their pediatrician to get the flu shot, but this year we took them to a different clinic that treats both adults and kids.  My excuse that they only give flu shots to a kid was not going to work!  Gah!

So we got the flu shot on a Saturday.  And by Tuesday or Wednesday, I didn't feel good.  I had that sore throat and ear ache only on one side.  It was the strangest thing that it only hurt on one side.  It hurt BAD.  I don't normally go to the doctor for something like a little sore throat, but by the next Saturday I was back at the clinic looking for some relief.

I was diagnosed with sinusitis and got some antibiotics (amoxcillin) and went home and took some immediately.  Then by the end of the day, I was already showing signs of Bell's Palsy (numb tongue, muscle weakness) even though I didn't recognize it as that.

I think getting the flu vaccine played a part in me developing Bell's Palsy.  I don't think a person can get the flu from getting a flu shot, but it seems like I always get sick after I get the flu vaccine.  That's one of the reasons I don't normally get a flu shot. I will definitely think twice before getting a flu shot in the future.

Do you think the flu shot can play a role in a person developing Bell's Palsy?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bell's Palsy - Day 35

Bell's Palsy - Day 35

Well today is Day 35 with Bell's Palsy.  I have made a lot of improvements within the last couple of weeks.

I can blink my eye now. It doesn't close completely, but it's a lot better.  This week, I had several days where my eye was irritated and dry.  I still tape my eye closed at night to protect it and help add some moisture back, let my eye rest.  Today, I tried wearing my contacts all day and it was not too bad.  I hope to be able to wear my contacts to work at least one or two days next week, depending on how it goes.

As you can see in the picture, my smile is coming back but my eyebrows are still not even.

My smile is back!!!!!

The muscles in my face are still fairly weak.  I still have to hold my lips closed when I rinse my mouth after I brush my teeth.  It is getting easier to talk although I still often talk out of the side of my mouth.

Oddly enough, my nose still has no movement on the affected side.

I think nobody who sees me realizes that I have Bell's Palsy.  I think I've made huge improvements in a little over a month.  This is great!   When I first got Bell's Palsy and heard "1-3 months" I was thinking that is terrible!  But it's been a month and I'm getting back to normal.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Bell's Palsy - Day 22

Bell's Palsy - Day 22
After 3 weeks, I'm happy to report that my face is showing signs of improvement.

On Friday morning, I noticed that I was able to move the corner of my mouth a teeny tiny bit.

This is my new smile.  I have practiced this smile probably about 500 times over the last few days.

No noticeable improvement with my eye yet, but I will take every little improvement I can get!

What do you think? Looking better?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bell's Palsy - Day 19

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Well I wish I had different news, but my Bell's Palsy symptoms have not really changed much. People keep telling me that I look better but my face is still paralyzed.

My pre-planned vacation from work ended a couple days ago and it has been an adjustment sitting at my desk at work all day.  My eye bugs me a lot during the day and there are times that I would like nothing more to just sit there with my eyes closed.  The worst part is driving back and forth to work.  My commute is about 45 minutes each way and it is a very precarious situation.  Sometimes my good eye seems just as irritated and unfocused as the bad eye.  Thankfully, Mike has been hauling around both kids in the morning and afternoon so that saves me an additional 30 minutes of drive time each way.

The other difficult part of going back to work is having to explain what's wrong with me over and over.  Most people don't ask.  I am sure they don't know what to say.  Sometimes I don't even bother to explain even though I can see the questions in their eyes. One of the cruel things about Bell's Palsy is that it's hard to say B and P words ... like Bell's Palsy.  Gah!

This deserves it's own blog post, but I have started taking lots of vitamins and supplements - a good multivitamin including all the B vitamins, an additional sublingual B12 supplement, fish oil for the Omega-3, naproxen sodium (Aleve) every six hours for the anti-inflammatory properties.  I don't know if this will help the paralysis go away any quicker, but I'm willing to try it.

By the time I get home from work, I want nothing more than to take a bath and go to bed. I was telling Mike earlier tonight that I wish my iPad had an app that would turn on my electric blanket without me having to get up and go in there.  Talk about lazy, right?

Thankfully, there's only one more work day before the weekend.

Longest.  Short week.  Ever.

Every few days, I make a cell phone video of myself trying to move my face in different ways - lifting my eyebrows, blinking, closing my eyes tight, smiling, puckering my lips. I like to compare it to the video I made on Day 1 (before I even want to the emergency room) to see if I can see ANY difference at all.  Even though people say I look better, the videos look the same to me.  My face still does not move.

I am wondering how long it took for other people to start seeing improvements?  I read something on the internet the other night that said if you don't start having some movements within the first 2-3 weeks, your recovery could take longer.  This is not a good sign.  I sure hope that's not the case.

I still only know one other person who has had Bell's Palsy.  Most people know someone who has had it, but they have not had it themselves.  The statistic I read online said that 40,000 Americans get Bell's Palsy every year.  That's not many.  Less then 800 per state per year.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Bell's Palsy - Day 13

Bell's Palsy - Day 13
Day 13 brings no change in my Bell's Palsy symptoms. I still have no movements in the left side of my face. I still have a lot of issues with my left eye as well. I still feel like my eye gets sore and gritty and uncomfortable by the end of the day.  I wear my pirate patch sometimes during the day and tape my eye shut at night.

I thought I would post a few pictures in case I want to come back and compare at different stages in my recovery.

Trying for a "natural smile" look

Looks like I could only afford to get Botox on one side of my forehead

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bell's Palsy - Day 5

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Well I have started having problems sleeping at night.  It's very unusual for me to have problems sleeping.  But I seem to wake up at about 2:30 am and have a hard time going back to sleep.  I think this may be due in part to the steroids that I am taking.

In other news, last night while I was wide awake at 4:00 am, I thought I felt the left side of my bottom lip twitching or tingling.  I could not feel it moving when I touched my lips with my finger, but at least I could feel something.

I don't think I've mentioned this before, but I have complete feeling in my face.  My face is not numb.  It's just paralyzed - the muscles will not move.

At this point, I am not in any pain.  The pain behind my ear has gone away.  This is a big improvement to me.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bell's Palsy - Day 4 - My Birthday

Bell's Palsy - Day 4 - My Birthday
My 4th day with Bell's Palsy happened to be my 35th birthday.  That was really difficult to think about - knowing that I was so early into this diagnosis and an unknown time to go.  I think that is one thing to at makes Bell's Palsy so difficult. You just don't know what to expect or how long it will last.

I had been reading online to see how other people with Bell's Palsy were managing all the day to day aspects of their life. One of the things I was concerned about was how I would be able to drive with my eyes hurting and so blurry.  But I had a hair appointment this afternoon that I did not want to miss.  I made it to my appointment and back home okay, but it was definitely not easy. I felt like I had to keep a finger on the corner of my left eye so that I could blink it manually when it started to get too blurry.

This was also the first time I'd been out in public by myself with Bell's Palsy.  I felt like everyone was looking at me and wondering what was wrong with me.

By the time I got home, I was exhausted.  We ran over to Sonic to pick up some supper for my birthday.  I decided to wear my pirate patch to give my eye a break.

After supper, we came home and ate some cake and I got to open my presents.

Even with Bell's Palsy, it was a good birthday.

Smiling cause it's my birthday. 
(Alternate title -  Argh! A pirate!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bell's Palsy - Day 3

Bell's Palsy - Day 3
When I woke up on the 3rd day of my personal experience with Bell's Palsy, I thought I was super smart. I had worn the tape over my eye for the first night and I thought I would go get in the shower and that would do two things - help keep the water and soap out of my eye during the shower and then the tape would be loosened enough that it would come off much easier.  The problem, I guess, is that the tape is paper.  So the water immediately soaked through the paper tape and got soap and water into my eyes.  Ouch!  Lesson learned.

So many things become more difficult when you have Bell's Palsy.  I mentioned in my last blog post that the eye is very sensitive since it does not blink or close normally.  When my eyes blink, the left eye tends to roll back in my head a bit (bell's phenomenon.)  The eye is very sensitive to light as well so I bought a pair of dark wrap-around sunglasses that I can wear over my glasses if needed.  Very cute, I know.  But it does help when I am out of the house.

My left ear is also very sensitive.  I call it supersonic hearing.  Any sound on the left side is much much louder than normal.  Normal sounds can be excruciatingly loud - kids yelling, singing or laughing.  Things dropped on the floor.  The vacuum cleaner.  My own coughing or sneezing.  Dishes in the sink.  The hairdryer!  All of these things could cause me to put my hand over my ear and wince in pain.

Eating is also a pain. It's exhausting to try to chew food when one side of my mouth will not function properly.  This is gross and embarrassing to admit, but I have to chew with my mouth open in order to get the food to move around enough so that I can chew it.  I usually end up eating with one hand in front of my mouth.  Drinking out of a straw is also hard.  I use one hand to hold the left side of my mouth closed against the straw so that I can drink.  Drinking without a straw is hard, too.  The poor lips don't do a good job of holding any liquids back.  I also have to use my fingers to hold my lips closed so that I can rinse my mouth after brushing my teeth.

I tried to eat an ice cream cone.  That was nearly impossible and extremely messy.  Noah had one too, but I'm pretty sure I got more ice cream on my face than he did.

Very cute sunglasses.  Good investment.  Protection from the sun from any angle.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, December 17, 2012

Bell's Palsy - Day 1 & 2

Bell's Palsy - Day 1 & 2
I've recently developed a condition called Bell's Palsy.  This condition has caused one side of my face to be temporarily paralyzed.  According to doctors and what I have read online, this condition can last 1-3 months or longer.

I will admit that Bell's Palsy is a very scary condition.  It seems like most people have heard of bell's palsy or know someone who has had it, but not many people have had it themselves.  I have decided to share my experience so that I can remember it and hopefully it can help other people who are going through similar situations.

So what causes Bell's Palsy?  It's caused by inflammation in the facial nerve on one side of the face.  The inflammation is most likely caused by a virus that affects the nerve.

On the Thursday and Friday before I developed Bell's Palsy, I had been sick with a cold.  I had a sore throat and earache, but only on one side (left side.)

On Saturday, I went to a clinic to see if I had strep throat or something.  The doctor diagnosed me with a sinus infection and gave me a prescription for some antibiotics.

Noah was also sick and was diagnosed with an ear infection that day.

I'm pretty much a wimp when it comes to swallowing pills so I asked the doctor for some liquid antibiotics.  After we picked up our prescriptions, we went home and Noah and I took our medicine and laid down for a nap. I slept for about 3 hours.

Later that night when we were eating supper, I noticed that my tongue felt numb.  I could move it, but the surface of my tongue felt very strange. I thought maybe it was something related to the liquid antibiotics.  Or maybe I was developing thrush?

On Sunday morning (I'm counting Sunday as Bell's Palsy - Day 1), I got up and immediately hopped into the shower.  I noticed that a lot of water and soap was getting into my eyes.  When I got out of the shower, I noticed that my left eye was not blinking and that I couldn't close it all the way.

So I got out my phone and googled "stroke symptoms".  I felt fine, but my face seemed to be weak.  Almost immediately, I started to think I might have bell's palsy.  I told Mike "something's wrong with my face" and showed him how my eye wasn't blinking.

We went ahead and went to Sunday School. We were having a birthday party for Jesus in our Sunday School class and I did not want to miss it!

Bell's Palsy Symptoms - Day 1

  • Left eye not blinking

  • Left eye not able to close all the way

  • Pain behind left ear (this is where the facial nerve comes through the skull and was being constricted)

  • Facial muscle weakness on left side (this seemed to get worse throughout the day. It seemed like I could talk okay in the morning, but by the evening my speech was affected.)

Mike and I talked a lot about whether or not go to go the emergency room. I really didn't want to go.  I was afraid the ER wouldn't do anything and would just send me home.  We decided to wait until Monday and see if we could get am appointment with an ear nose throat doctor and save us a trip to the emergency room.

Bell's Palsy - Day 2

On Monday morning, I called around to several ear nose throat doctors but I quickly realized that I was not going to be able to get a same day appointment.  I also noticed immediately that it was much harder to talk because the left side of my mouth was not functioning.

After Mike took Emily to school, we headed over to the emergency room.  Thankfully, Mike's parents watched Noah for us.

There was no waiting at the ER this day so I was immediately taken back to the triage area where they took my vitals and asked why I was being seen.  The nurse listened to my symptoms and then said "welcome to bell's palsy."  I said "I know. But I just want to make sure it's nothing more serious."  She said they would definitely do a CT scan of my head to rule out other things.

We were taken back to a room and we didn't have to wait long for the doctor. He agreed that I probably had bell's palsy but I would get a CT scan to make sure there were no tumors and no evidence of a stroke.  As expected, I didn't have any tumors or a stroke. I had bell's palsy.  The doctor gave me a prescription for a steroid and an anti-viral medication and lots of advice and sent me home.

The doctor said the main thing you have to watch for with bell's palsy is problems with your eyes.  They can dry out and get ulcerated if not careful.  He suggested I get some eye drops to use during the day and some night ointment that I can put in my eye at night to keep it moist. He also said to tape my eye shut at night.

Bell's Palsy Symptoms - Day 2

  • Left eye not blinking

  • Left eye not able to close all the way

  • Pain behind left ear 

  • Left side facial weakness

  • Speech affected

  • Eyebrows uneven (left eyebrow lower)

  • Tongue still numb on left side 

  • Taste buds affected - not just lack of taste, but some things now taste bad

  • Half-smile

  • Unable to flare nose on left side

Here are a couple pictures of me in the emergency room.

Check out the eyebrows!


After we got out of the ER, we went to the drug store to pick up my new prescriptions and I got all kinds of supplies - lubricating gel eye drops, night eye goop, a pirate eye patch, stick-on eye patches, paper surgical tape for sensitive skin.

That night, I put goop in my eye and taped my eye shut for the first time.  I literally used the paper surgical tape and pulled my eyelid closed and put tape across it.  Maybe I was supposed to cover my eye with gauze first?

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