Thursday, November 15, 2007

Belle once More

I've been getting a fair number of hits lately from people in search of Bell's Palsy info. Since it wasn't so long ago that I was searching the internets for as many details as possible, I can sympathize, and will do my best to provide a concise but complete account of my own BP experience.

Here is the first post I wrote about the whole thing. What my first symptoms were, how I felt, yada yada. Three days later, I was fully paralyzed on the right side of my face, evidenced by the photo below. I had feeling in my face, but no movement whatsoever.

Taken 10/18/07, three days after initial onset of symptoms


So, a day after being diagnosed, my doctor prescribed a short course of acyclovir (an anti-viral) and prednisone (a corticosteroid). Yes, I am in my second trimester of pregnancy. Yes, my obstetrician said that these were safe to take. I was fortunate not to have any of the bad reactions to these drugs that I'd read about other people having. The prednisone made me thirsty, so I drank a ton of water and was getting up to go to the bathroom about seventeen times a night. That was about it, though. I was done with the acyclovir in 5 days and the pred in 8. I haven't been back to the OB yet since I finished the meds, but I know things are still trucking along just fine in the gestational realm.

Whether or not the drugs were responsible, the duration of my symptoms was pretty short. Two weeks after onset, I was starting to get some movement back on the affected side. Not bad! Now, another two and a half weeks later, I'm pretty much back to normal. See?

Taken 11/14/07, one month after onset

So, the palsy was annoying. The area behind my right ear hurt like a bitch at first. I was glad when that went away after about a week. I had to get used to eating carefully so as not to bite my cheek and lips. Drinking with a straw was easier (and resulted in less dribbling) than trying to drink straight from a glass. Laughing and talking too much hurt a bit, as the muscles on the left side of my face had to do all the work and pulled my mouth and nose to the side. My right eye wouldn't close all the way, so I had to remember to hold it shut in the shower when rinsing shampoo out of my hair, and it kind of rolled up creepily when I blinked, which I'm sure looked ever so charming to anyone talking to me. I had to put drops in my eye every so often during the day, especially when I was at the computer, or it would dry out. All the doctors were most emphatic on this point; apparently one of the biggest risks is lasting damage to the eye due to overdrying. It was never so bad that I had to tape it shut at night, which is good because I tried a couple of times, and ended up just ripping the tape/patch/whatever off in my sleep.

The thing that surprised me the most, and which I don't recall reading about anywhere, was how very sore the affected side of my face got once it started to heal. I felt like I'd been badly bruised, even though I certainly didn't look like it. That lasted a couple of weeks or so and was pretty unpleasant. It slowly started to hurt less and less though, and of course now it's just fine. Yay!

A month later, I'm not quite back to 100%, but I'm pretty darned close. Call it 97.3%. If you're reading this because you've just been diagnosed with Bell's Palsy, or think you might have it, just know that it's not a ton of fun, and it'll get worse before it gets better, but it will get better. Go to a doctor right quick, if you can, and since I had no issues with the medication, I can speak favorably of taking it. Obviously I can't say whether I would have started improving as rapidly as I did if I hadn't taken the drugs, and it's entirely possible that I would have, but they certainly didn't seem to hurt me any. It should go without saying that everyone is a unique snowflake and my experiences may well not be your experiences, but I'm living proof that it's definitely possible to get through a bout with Bell's relatively unscathed.

And with that I'm off to bed. Though if I don't feed these cats first they may very well devour me in my sleep. Which would be unfortunate. So to the cat bowls, and thence to Nod. G'night all.


Lord Chimmy said...

Wow. Dramatic difference in photos. I think you did a good thing providing you experience. People love to self-diagnose based on internet information, so at least you're providing good information.

Glad to hear that you're back to normal. Must've been a frightening experience in the beginning.

madre said...

Wow! The first photo doesn't show for me, for some reason, but I saw you for myself about 3 days after....what a JOY to see your happy face in photo #2!!!!!!!!!!!!
It is so nice of you to post about your experience. I was so lost when I got diagnosed wIth MG. Thanks to empathetic people like you, I knew I wasn't alone and that no matter what, I'd be ok! BRAVO !! XOXOXOXOXOX

Tom's dad said...

The bottom Sue is the real you that we all know and love, and we are glad she's back.

susan said...

Chimmy - That was indeed the idea behind the post. I'm hopeful that I wrote something that will help make things easier for folks going through the same thing.

Madre - The top photo was actually taken on Mario's cell phone as he was driving me to the airport, so you saw me just a few hours later. I'm not sure why it didn't show up; probably if you reload the page it will.

Dad-in-law - Glad to be back! :)

YaYa & Buddy said...

Oh Dear, this Grandma's heart skipped a beat or two looking at the pics. Susan, you are bright, brave & beautiful...thank you Tom for your love & support...Hugs, YaYa & Mr. Buddy

Megan said...

Very interesting read, even for someone like me. (And how cute are you in the second picture?!! Love it!) Yay for being 97.3% again!

susan said...

Yaya - Truly, I am very fortunate to have such a good and supportive one as Tom.

(Teacher) Megan - Yay indeed! (And thank you so much; you're too kind!)

Riley & Tiki said...

Yay! Glad you are feeling better.

R&T Mom

susan said...

Thanks! Me too. :)

Neil said...

97.3% is better than how most of feel all the time. Good news...