My Bell’s Palsy Experience & Why You Should Nurture Your Mental Health

First Day & Diagnosis of Bell's Palsy

First Day & Diagnosis of Bell’s Palsy

 

March 15th, 2016… Noon

I woke up feeling like something heavy had been sitting on my face overnight, the left side of my face was numb and stiff. When I went to the bathroom, to engage in my daily routine, I noticed something was different about my face. As I kept on with my routine of brushing my teeth, I also noticed that I couldn’t keep the water inside my mouth, to get rid of the toothpaste residue. That’s when I began to poke and prod at my face; it drooped down from my eye all the way to the left corner of my mouth. I stared at myself in the mirror scared and confused as to what the hell had happened.

The next thought running in my mind was that I had a small stroke and didn’t even know it. So before hyping myself up, I asked a medical friend if they noticed something different of me. And of course they saw that my face was droopy, and that I could not move my facial muscles to fully smile. WTF?! My friend did a quick stroke test on me; she had me raise my arms, bend down, talk, etc. everything was functioning just fine, so why did half of my face look like this?

As you can see in the above picture, I could not smile fully like I usually do. Instead of going for a run that I had planned with my friend that day, I went to an Urgent Doc by my house, to see what was going on. I got to the doctor’s office, filled out the paperwork (praise the Lord for insurance lol) and waited for the verdict. After checking my vitals (which were good) the doctor came back and had me try to make the blow fish face. I failed at that. I could not hold my breath, without letting air out on the left side of my face, I kept trying and trying while the doctor shook her head in agreement with herself; she knew what was up. She then asked me a series of questions about my stress levels and I answered honestly, “Well I am graduating, I have a heavy school and work load and I’m dealing with other personal issues,” I looked at the doctor sheepishly. “Mhhmmm, well Jasmine, you have Bell’s Palsy. The facial nerves have stopped functioning…” At that point I drowned her out with an overwhelming sea of thoughts, as to how this happened to me. I touched the left side of my face and said, “What? I have Bell’s Palsy? What is that? Am I gonna be ok? Is this treatable?”  I was a nervous big-eyed mess. “You will be fine, Jasmine,” the doctor said reassuringly. “You just really need to watch your stress levels, it’s good that you caught this early or it could have gotten worse.” 

After my visit, I had learned that I had a temporary facial paralysis, that could have been caused by stress. I was prescribed with a steroid Prednisone, that reduced the inflammation in my face, I had to take that for a week. So I had a half functioning face, how in the world was I going to function throughout the day?

Week 3 of my Bell's Palsy

Week 3 of my Bell’s Palsy

 

I did my research to see how this could be treated, and I stumbled upon some videos on YouTube that made me feel like I wasn’t alone in this journey. Bell’s Palsy Recovery and Remedies I’ve been Trying  was very helpful because the same thing happened to this person as well. Her facial paralysis lasted for about 4 weeks like mine, and she did a lot facial exercises to help ease the pain.

Since this was my first time experiencing this (and hopefully my last), I was very concerned and scared about my health. I guess you could say, “I woke up”. I really did not need a health scare during the most crucial time in my life; I’m graduating in May, looking for a full-time job, and just overall transitioning into this new area of my life. Why did this happen? I don’t have a definite answer, but I do know that I have learned from this situation. My mental health needs to be nurtured too, such as reducing my stress levels by removing things and people out of my life, that aren’t good for me. I’m an introvert at heart, and when I stress, I keep it in, it’s hard to reach out when you feel like no one understands what you’re going through. But there’s always a silver lining to crazy situations like these; someone has gone through a similar situation and can help you, whatever it may be, don’t keep your stress in. Trust me, you don’t want to end up like me, with half your face working.

My Symptoms of Bell’s Palsy:

  • Pain in the ear
  • Abnormal taste sensitivity
  • Ringing in the ear
  • Dry eye (my left eye would not close all the way, so I had to use eye drops a lot)
  • Constant twitching
  •  Difficulty eating, food would slip of my mouth
  • Confidence was a little low, I was ashamed to smile sometimes because I looked really weird

In no way am I a medical professional, this is just my experience that I wanted to share with you all. I want you all to be healthy and as stress-free as possible, this shit is not fun or cute. Stay healthy friends.

Notice how my left eye looks compared to the right one

Notice how my left eye looks compared to the right one

I am glad to report that I am 95% recovered, sometimes I still twitch and experience stiffness. I hope nothing like this happens again, this experience has taught me to take care of my mental health, and to let out my frustrations. As a young woman, I want to encourage you all to nurture your mental health, it’s vital to your well being. Mental health is real yall.

Thanks babes for reading, I hope this helps someone.

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9 thoughts on “My Bell’s Palsy Experience & Why You Should Nurture Your Mental Health

  1. I’m glad you wrote about your experience. Stress can cause a plethora of health issues. It is definitely essential to nurture your mental health. My mom had a similar experience but hers was a lot more intense. We were convinced she had a stroke. She literally woke up crosseyed with a facial droop. Luckily her facial paralysis is gone and she is no longer crosseyed but she still has vision problems. I’m glad you are on the road to recovery. Congrats on being near the finish line for your degree 🙂

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  2. I have had Bell’s Palsy twice in my life. The first time was when I was 13 years old while on summer vacation. Like you, I woke up one morning and went to brush my teeth and could not hold the water in my mouth. I also noticed that only one eye could squint and the other could not. I remember my heart racing and hoping that maybe I had slept badly on one side of my face and that it would get better as the day wore on. Not so! It got worse! I brought it to my aunt’s attention and she took me to the doctor the very next day. He gave me medication and in about a few weeks, I was back to normal.

    Thinking back, at that particular time, I had moved into a new situation in New York with my mother and it was a very turbulent/traumatic time in my life. I had spent the summer at my auntie’s house and had been experiencing some serious anxiety over returning to New York. I truly believe that is what brought on the Bell’s Palsy.

    I was stricken with Bell’s Palsy YET AGAIN in October of 2015. I was 6 months into a new job, which, by the way, was extremely stressful. There was this one manager in particular who made my life horribly miserable on that job. She was very devious, spiteful and calculating and I felt like my job was constantly on the line. Also around that same time, my car had broken down and from that point on it was just a domino effect to where everything that could go wrong, DID! My symptoms began with exaggerated volume in one ear. I picked up the phone and dialed a number and had to quickly pull the phone away from my ear because the tone was so loud that it blasted my eardrum. I didn’t make much of it and simply turned down the volume on the phone. After work, I went grocery shopping and felt my mouth twitching a bit. It wasn’t entirely uncommon for my eye to twitch once in a while, so I just brushed it off as one of those things. The following morning, I was sitting at my desk and noticed that one of my eyes kept watering and I could not squint with that eye. I also had blurred vision. At that point, I was no longer in denial and immediately knew what it was. That very evening after work, I went to urgent care and they gave me a steroid and an antiviral. It took a bit longer for me to recover this time around and I still have subtle asymmetry when I pucker or pronounce certain words (that only I am self-conscious about and others said they hadn’t noticed until I mentioned it) but for the most part, my face is back to normal again.My smile is symmetrical, I can squint with both eyes, raise both eyebrows etc.Just like the previous episode, I truly believe it was the stress of my job situation that brought on the Bell’s Palsy again. I have since made a commitment to eating healthier and taking more time to ‘stop and smell the roses’, so to speak. I also addressed the situation with that manager and had a meeting with HR to address the issues. Things have since improved to some degree on the job and I have made it my life’s mission not to let that manager or anyone else on that job cost me my health.

    I apologize for the length of this comment, but felt I had to share my story and drive home just how serious of an impact stress can have on your health at ANY age. Thank you so much, Jasmine for being so brave and sharing your story so that others could open up about their own experiences with this illness.

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    • Thank you Miss S for your comment. I truly appreciate you also sharing your story, as I don’t feel so alone in what happened. At that time when I was going through it, I was graduating, working and a million other things. I was beyond stressed. Things are ok, but I am hopeful that they’ll get better. Thank you again for your kind and encouraging words!

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