As I was growing up in the ‘90s, my mother wouldn’t take me outside during the first few years of my life. She told me that she was afraid I would scare the other neighbourhood children, and have the hardest time making friends. Until I received surgery (before attending headstart classes), I spent countless days and nights at home because of Bell’s palsy. With your permission, I’d like to share several insights with you about the terrifying world of having Bell’s palsy.
1. What Is Bell’s Palsy?
Unfortunately, there are several strains of bacteria and certain viruses that are associated with the growth and development of facial paralysis. A small number of these viruses/bacteria include (but are not limited to):
- Herpes simplex
- Lyme disease
Any one of these viral infections could be a part of the cause behind Bell’s palsy development. This development occurs, various medical scientists believe, when cranial nerves (particularly the seventh) becomes swollen, inflamed or compressed. As a result of this, this facial nerve, now damaged, signals from the brain to facial muscles are “interrupted”. This interruption means those facial muscles are a paralysed; Bell’s palsy.
2. What To Watch Out For
Initially, the first signs of Bell’s palsy may occur one or two weeks after a cold, eye or ear infection; this includes the sinuses as well. After that time, you may notice either the left or right side of your face “drooping”. In some cases, people have been unable to close or open their eye on the affected side of their face. It is at this time that other symptoms and signs of Bell’s palsy become more prominent. These include (but are not limited to):
- Intense and unstoppable drooling
- Incredible difficulty eating solids and drinking liquids
- Cannot frown, smile or express human emotions
- Muscle twitches that will annoy them to no end
- Massive, unending headaches
- An increased sensitivity to sound
However, you should never diagnose Bell’s palsy yourself, for one simple reason: these symptoms share similarities with a stroke and brain tumour. That’s why I cannot overestimate the importance of contacting your local physician immediately when you first notice any one of these symptoms.
3. Give Them Confidence
Nobody can deny the immense struggles of people who go through Bell’s palsy or facial paralysis. A sufferer’s self-confidence is fragile, and can be shattered in an instant. Yes, we live in a world that’s far more cultured—and more tolerant of “disfigured” or “abnormal” people—than it was in years past. Although the fact remains that there are some groups of people who have a tendency to treat “different” people rudely (and in some cases, inhumanely). This is why my mother had no qualms about sending me to have facial paralysis surgery before I reached Pre-K.
Depending on the severity of damaged nerves, recovery time varies from individual to individual. However, typically you can expect a positive future after recovering from facial surgery. Bell’s palsy is not life-threatening and possesses little to no risk to your health. However, you’d be wise to remember that recovery time may be anywhere between two weeks and three-to-six months. Only in the rarest of cases has Bell’s palsy been permanent and is nothing to worry about.