What if one side of your face is paralyzed? Just one half of your face.
First things first, I am sharing my experience because I haven’t found much helpful content related to this condition when I surfed the internet. Research shows that just over 70% of people do make a full recovery from this condition. I’m one among them.
I was working at Cognizant when I noticed its symptoms. Doctors later told me that it was BELL’S PALSY – a paralysis or weakness of the muscles on one side of your face. Haven’t heard of it before? Me neither.
27th May 2016- At around 4 pm I was strolling in the park for a while. That’s when I felt my tongue going numb. When I had the first sip of tea later, it tasted awful or should I say “I lost the taste”. It felt sour and the taste wouldn’t go. So I rinsed my mouth with water and cursed the tea vending machine as if it was the machine’s fault. Two hours later I still could feel something wrong about my tongue. It was oily and smooth. “Damn machine”.
It didn’t get any better later that night too. Everything tasted awful. At around 11 pm I had to brush and use tongue cleaner. Things started to get worse. My upper left part of the face started to ache. So I applied some pain balm and slept the night away.
28th May 2016- I had a pre-booked appointment at Apollo Clinic. I decided to go by bike and put my skullcap helmet on. As I rode, wind would blow directly into the eyes and I realized that I couldn’t close my left eye. The pain in the left part of face last night struck me. I was shit scared and managed to reach the clinic rubbing my eyes all the way remaining. Rushed to the washroom in the clinic first thing and splashed water over my face expecting the lid eye lid to close. Nothing happened. My name was announced then and I was asked to give blood and urine samples both before eating and 2 hours after eating. I did as I was asked and went to the cafeteria nearby to have breakfast and ordered a plate of Idli. As I started chewing, I noticed the left part of my lower lip was not in sync with its upper part. It felt weird. To the people who looked at me in that moment, I must have come across as a toothless person trying hard to chew. As much as that thought amused me, I was in no position to laugh.
I rushed to the washroom again to see if something was wrong with my face. The left part in particular. Nothing. I convinced myself that it was due to panicking and nothing else. Everything looked okay in the mirror until I tried to smile. A sudden sharp pain rushed from spine to neck. It was just the right side part moving. My palms were cold and legs started to shiver. I tried smiling again gently but it didn’t become any better. I could only move right nostril, right eyebrow. Try frowning with moving just your right eyebrow. Weird right?
I first feared if it was a stroke but my left limbs were moving fine. So I ruled out that option and came out for a glass of water. I tried drinking but my lips wouldn’t close. Water got leaked from the left side of lips. “Shit” I thought. I explained my symptoms to the receptionist and asked for an immediate appointment with the doctor. She did accordingly and since it was just a clinic, I was taken to a general physician. She listened to me and examined me for a while and said that the symptoms looked like “BELL’S PALSY”. She must have seen a confused look on my bell’s palsy face because she immediately started to explain what it was and assured me that proper medication and physiotherapy is all that is needed and that I should not worry much.
She also advised me to consult a Neuro-specialist for further clarification. So I googled for a Neuro-specialist and made an appointment with Dr. Joy Varghese at 3pm. He is a Neuro Surgeon at Apollo Specialty Hospitals and was 10 KMs away from the clinic. I was growing restless and got there early and waited for two and half hours. When he arrived, I told him what had happened. His words and composure made me calm down and gave a feeling that I was in right hands to deal with this condition. He prescribed me a MRI of the brain and immediate admission into the hospital. I got admitted into the hospital and was administered with few drugs IV.
29th May 2016- I got my MRI reports and Thank God! Everything was normal. I was discharged from hospital on 31st May 2016 evening. I was prescribed 60mg of Prednisolone for four days and after four days 5mg decremental dosage for 10 days. I was also prescribed Acyclovir 400mg five times a day for 10 days and Electric pulse physiotherapy daily for 2 weeks. But the headaches and shooting pain from ear to back of the head and neck continued for a month after being discharged from the hospital.
The worst part of the treatment was the physiotherapy in which I had to make many weird expressions and gestures to regain the muscle and nerve strength. Bell’s Palsy makes people panic horribly in the initial stage and later you have to bear with all the jokes about your face. It was a dangerously comic experience for me. I was at home for two months to avoid cold exposure outside and finally resigned my routine tedious job to avoid cold air conditioning in the office. A new and interesting part of my life unfolded after getting relieved from the job. I hate to say this but thank you BELL’S PALSY.
Image Source: Bell’s Palsy article by Tina Shahian, PhD in InnerBody.com.