I had a life-defining moment this weekend. It affects my lifestyle, it affects my job, it affects everything. I developed a case of Bell’s Palsy. And although statistics are on my side for recovery, it doesn’t always mean I will fully heal or not have a re-lapse down the road.
I’m just glad it wasn’t a stroke.
The first 24 hours
In hind-sight, I guess it all happened around 11 AM on Friday, September 30, 2016. I came home from a couple clubs where I play and work. I had a weird taste in my mouth – described best as when you burn your tongue. I thought it was the sugary soda I have from time to time as that usually leaves a filmy taste.
The next morning was like no other. I woke up, got my cup of coffee and drank it. No problem. I went to the kitchen an poured a bowl of cereal. Sat down and ate it, but noticed my right side of my mouth was more sore and it was harder to chew. Still didn’t think about it.
An hour later, I was in my studio working. I went to blink (or wink) and I noticed I couldn’t close my left eye all the way without really working at it. At that point, I knew something was wrong. I went to the mirror and noticed the left side of my face was not as responsive. I was a little puffy, and Jennifer also mentioned the puffiness, but I could still do things like raise my eyebrow. So I took her to work and we didn’t think about it.
It wasn’t until a phone call from my friend Alex, who not only has a nurse for a wife but also had a stroke earlier in his life, simply said these words.
“Go to the Hospital NOW”.
At the Hospital
When I mentioned the facial paralysis, I instantly got swarmed with doctors and nurses all asking me the exact same questions. You need to do that to determine if there is a stroke, so I didn’t mind repeating myself. They made me raise my eyebrows, which I could do without issue at the time. I still had feeling in my face (which has not changed at all). When I smiled, it basically told the story.
There was something wrong.
Cat Scans and MRI’s
I was admitted at about 1 PM. For the next 5 hours, they went through all the tests. During this time I got to watch the Wisconsin Badgers take on the Michigan Wolverines (unfortunately the Badgers lost, but it was a great game) while they took blood and urine tests, CT scan and then MRI. All this time I had doctors, nurses and med students keeping me company.
The Good News, the Bad News and the Promising News
Keep in mind, the reality is I had some great news. I was NOT having a stroke. But the bad news was I had an infection called “Bell’s Palsy” and it’s a Herpes Simplex. They don’t know how it happened and for the majority it is completely curable – with me having a better chance of recovery since I spotted it early.
Once diagnosed, a regimen could be administered. I got steroids, an anti-viral, eye patch and a salve I use to keep my left eye hydrated (since I cannot close the lid 100%). I was then sent on my way and told to come back next week to see a Neurologist.
That was a long day, so I pretty much rested and went to bed.
The Next Day
Believe it or not, the symptoms got worse the next day. I couldn’t raise my left eyebrow at all. Puckering or spitting was a horrible challenge. But I felt good because I knew I was on the right recovery.
I keep my eye hydrated, I massage my muscles in the face, and most important, try to use my left side as much as possible. This is so I don’t lose any muscle tone. The taste issue has moved over to the left side, but the whole tongue still has that burned feeling.
What I’ve Learned in the Last 48 Hours
I had a very big education since then. I first learned my Dad had Bells Palsy for over a month and a half and I had no idea. I learned this is not contagious but it could come back in about 10 years. I learned more about Herpes Simplex 1 and some other possible issues I need to be concerned with.
This Isn’t Tech. Why I put out this Video
To be selfishly honest, this is more for me than anyone. This is so i know what happened and how I was 48 hours into the Palsy. This helps me realize that I can still continue on with what I love even if I don’t regain full functionality.
— geekazine (@geekazine) October 2, 2016
Fun Facts About Bells Palsy
Believe it or not, I first learned about it watching WWE wrestling. Good ole JR – Jim Ross developed it over the years and it is now a perminant feature for him. Since he is a on-air talent and podcaster as well, he gives me belief I can continue on without issue.
Did you know these celebrities also had Bells Palsy at one point in their lives?
- George Clooney
- Roseanne Barr
- Pierce Brosnan (Yup! James Bond had Bells!)
- Gordon Lightfoot
- Joe Mantenga
- Rick Savage (Def Leppard)
- Andrew Lloyd Webber
- Nancy Zieman (Sewing with Nancy)
85% will recover from Bells Palsy in a year, 50% within a few weeks.
There are some fun facial exercises for those with the condition. Heat and Massage are great routines to get into
There are some cool eye patches out there and you get to walk around looking like a pirate.
Medical Marijuana can be prescribed for long-term sufferers.
Before and After Photos
You can believe I’m taking lots of photos before and after. After all – how else do I know I’m better?