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I have Bell’s Palsy: Part 6, the Waiting Game

December 20, 2010

A quick update:

Overall I’m feeling about the same. There has been no new movement in the left side of my face; the left eye can kind of blink but I think this is Cranial Nerve III (Occulomotor – which controls the eyelid, pupil, etc.) more than an improvement of Cranial Nerve VII (Facial Nerve – the one paralyzed in Bell’s Palsy). I did work a few half-days this week and it was a bit of a struggle to be busy with hands while my eye grew angry at me. I certainly wasn’t in top form at work owing to some of the discomfort, a fuzzy brain (either just from being sick or as a side-effect of the prednisone), and not sleeping much. I also cancelled my birthday plans (yah I know, Bell’s is not quite the gift I requested this year) and spent most of the weekend resting and being fussed over.

Now,  eating better and lisping less is the general theme. A small ulcer that was in the right side of my mouth from initial too-eager eating is now resolved, and I have managed to cram just about anything and everything in my face. The hardest was probably pizza, since co-ordinating the wide-open/bite/chew sequence apparently needs two sides of the mouth to function.

It is lucky that our bodies have such redundancy or at least “not all eggs in one basket.” Cranial Nerve V (Trigeminal) which mainly does sensation in the face also handily innervates the masseters and pterygoids, which are muscles instrumental in chewing. Without those bad boys, it would be liquid guzzling all the way every day. Ick. Eating is not normal but it is hardly as hard as it could be.

One new thing is that I have had a sore left face, and I think this is owing to little fasciculations (‘twitches’) in the muscles. Everyone reading this has probably experienced a little spasm of a muscle around the eye or temple at some point; I have the same feelings but they are happening all over one side of my face and leave a kind of bruised feeling behind. I assume this is a positive thing, potentially reflecting aberrant conduction down the nerve. Is the nerve waking up? I hope so! No word on the MRI but that’ll probably happen many weeks after I have any clinical change (presuming I do).

On the 10th day of prednisone . . . my disorder gave to me: No more days of prednisone! I bet I’ll be feeling generally less poopie once that is out of my system.  It’s time to face the holidays, with a sigh. I saved up my vacation in order to have a few weeks of fun, but given that I can’t safely ski or play hockey, will have trouble walking in the cold air with my darn’d eye, and get embarrassed that I can’t smile or talk like a normal person, I’m a bit disappointed. I might try the skiing thing against better advice – it’ll be uncomfortable but goggles might just make it reasonable enough. Despite the fact that I don’t feel stellar in public, I’m quickly adopting an attitude involving some middle-ground between “no one is looking at me anyway” and  “get lost! this is just how I look.” Enough hours wandering around the downtown of our biggest city in the next few days and maybe I’ll forget all about it. I should think I’m lucky – fortunately drooling hasn’t been one of the sexy problems included in my case.

So, I’ll continue with my routine. I get up every morning, look in the mirror, and “practice” my movements. Smile? Nose scrunch? Forceful shut eye? Lift eyebrow? I place my hand over the muscle to feel for the slightest twitch. And I will keep doing this.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2010 12:23 pm

    My first thought was fasciculations are better than none.

    Maybe a sign of improvement too.

    It usually lasts about 3 weeks to 6 months in almost all.

    12% have moderate recovery and only 4% have poor resolution.

    Incomplete palsies almost always resolve within a month.

    Best Regards

    • December 20, 2010 2:27 pm

      Thanks Steve. Trouble is I’m not sure if mine is complete it not. No lip droop at rest but no muscle movement. Can’t seem to find a definition of complete except to say it’s worse than incomplete, haha!

      PS when will you make an App that pats people on the back and reassures them all will be well? Could be a big seller!

  2. December 20, 2010 2:01 pm

    I hope the above poster is right.

    I wish you a full and speedy recovery!

    • December 20, 2010 2:33 pm

      I see you are doing ISCI at UBC. Rock on! I loved the Darwinian medicine and models in science classes which I took in addition to COGS/Biopsych stuff. Definitely thinking rather than rote memory was demanded in those courses. Anyway, happy exams-are-over 🙂

    • December 30, 2010 5:42 pm

      Are you an ISCI alumni?

      Thanks for the tips 🙂 I’m hoping to check out both of those courses. Hopefully I get a chance to!

  3. December 21, 2010 6:19 pm

    Don’t want to offer false reassurance, Jessica…
    Know you are an impatient patient as a Doc eager to doctor full steam ahead.
    Reflect of this respite as an opportunity to feel your patients pang first hand.
    Think how good of an understanding you will have of people when you treat this in the future.
    I think this is showing signs of improvement from what you are saying and showing since it began.
    Stay optimistic and think positive thoughts.

    BTW: Do you have an iPad?

    • December 26, 2010 10:53 pm


      i do think it’s getting better. will update the blog soon but definitely some movement coming back. can’t wait to smile! I am terribly impatient with myself and definitely feeling the patients’ pain.

      no iPad yet. had one in my hot little hands but it was a gift I couldn’t accept! One of these years…

  4. December 21, 2010 6:48 pm

    Pat Pat Pat

    Let’s make a freebee app for that on iPhone, iPad!

    Great idea!

    I have the programmer that can put it together in a Jiffy…

    We need to have some slogans that accentuate the positive for each problem.

  5. Kelsey permalink
    December 30, 2010 11:05 am

    glad to hear there has been improvement! thanks for sharing it is a great learning opportunity for us students out here!! Hope you aren’t getting down on yourself :)!

  6. maara permalink
    December 31, 2010 8:15 am

    Hi, Dear! how are you now? getting better? i have Bells Palsy too.. from December 23. 😦

  7. bettyscandretti permalink
    January 3, 2011 1:51 am

    Thanks for sharing this experience! Happy new year 🙂

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