Sometime in June, 2018, just a few weeks after relocating back home, I woke up one morning in a different body. My daughter was only 8 months old trying to adjust to her new normal just like the rest of us. We had travelled across continents and time-zones with job changes and a new life to begin. We were tired! On this fateful day, I woke up and got ready to brush my teeth, only to realize that my mouth was bent to the side and I could not control it. I tried to gargle but struggled. I immediately called my husband, “babe, there is something wrong.” “What do you mean,” he said? I responded – my face feels like it has a partial stroke. I can’t close or control the muscles in my mouth. “Come home”- I said in frustration. Something is not right.
Fast forward to driving down to the doctor’s, it was confirmed to be a condition called Bell’s Palsy. The Dr. confirmed that there is no known cause, but it could have been triggered by anything. Bell’s Palsy is a condition that occurs when the root of the facial nerve is attacked by a virus, causing paralysis to one side of the face. There is no cure for it.
After doing a little more research, I discovered that stress could also be a trigger or even something I ate. The last thing I recall eating a day before it happened were some nuts. Because of this, I stayed away from nuts for about 2 years to be on the safe side.
However, after visiting my doctor for my annual wellness check in 2020, she confirmed because Bell’s Palsy is idiopathic, meaning there is no known cause, it is difficult to determine where it stemmed from. For this reason, I was able to eat nuts again.
I started noticing recovery at the 6-month mark with accompanied pain on the affected side of my face. It was a good sign that my nerves were beginning to wake up. My smile also started to return gradually. Before then, it was hard to laugh or smile. I have never been the one with low self-esteem, but the condition left me uneasy and unsettled. I hardly left the house or received visitors. I wondered if my face will ever get back to normal. The stress from traveling around, resigning from my job and adjusting to motherhood in a new country took a toll on my body. Bell’s palsy can also spring up in women who are in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy.
Today, I am feeling a lot better than where I started. After 2 years of recovery, my sense of self has returned. I may never have my face back at 100% but where it is today is a lot to be grateful for.
Have you heard of Bell’s Palsy? Do you know anyone that had or has it? Share your experience. I would love to hear from you.
BELL’S PALSY AWARENESS WEEK IS MARCH 1ST TO 7TH.