There are a lot of medical terms to remember being a nurse or doctor but quite often I don’t recall what they specifically are till I do some revision on them or they happen to me personally. A week back the thought of Bell’s palsy was the furthest medical condition from my mind as I had no reason at all to give it any thought whatsoever. That was until last Thursday afternoon when checking out a tripod that I borrowed from my son for my camera. I went to close my right eye to look through the camera eye view and realised I could not close it at all. I thought this is odd as I haven’t had this problem before. When looking back over the last week I realised that it was on Wednesday morning that the right side of my lip just felt unequal to my left lip but I put that down initially as possible swelling as I did bite my inner lip the previous week. By Friday morning last week my whole right side of my face was lower than my left side. This was demonstrated by my facial appearance as my right eye browse was lower than the left side, my smile is lopsided, and my right eye is more closed and doesn’t blink naturally.
This meant a trip to see my doctor to determine the cause of my problem. On arrival my doctor had to rule out any possibility of a stroke or bleeding in the brain as I am on warfarin for a heart condition. I was confident through my research that it was either a tick or Bell’s palsy but at least the CT scan would reveal anything abnormal happening that needed acute medical intervention. The CT scan came back with nothing to be concerned about in terms of acute interventions or going straight to hospital which was a relief. From seeing my doctor post CT scan the diagnosis at this stage is that I have Bell’s palsy which I tend to agree with myself given my symptoms. The other areas of my body are working fine except for the right side of my face.
My medical dictionary states that Bell’s palsy is ‘a unilateral paralysis of the facial nerve. It results from herpes zoster or an unknown infection. Any or all of the branches of the nerve maybe affected. The person may not be able to close their eye or control salivation on the affected side. The condition is usually unilateral and can be transient or permanent’ (Mosby’s Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, & Health Professions, 2006, p193).
I just want to say that I am not drooling yet but if I do later on I will nickname myself “Hooch” which was the name of the dog that starred with Tom Hank’s many years ago 🙂
When telling my parents of my situation my father said he also had a session of Bell’s palsy which overtime corrected itself. I didn’t notice anything abnormal about him last time I saw him so I hope that will apply to me as well. I’m not quite sure if I would continue working as a nurse if my facial expression remained as per photos below as it would be off putting to a patient I reckon. Just imagine having a big drool of saliva hanging from your lip when taking patients obs lol. Hooch would get away with it by shaking his head sideways but not me.
I suppose the positive side of this situation is that it does remind you of the daily problems some of the elderly people in nursing homes have when having their meals. The simple task of eating toast is that I have to slice the toast in pieces as I can’t control the left side of my mouth as normal. Having a drink from a coffee mug requires me to use a finger to push the right side of my lip up a little to make a seal around the mug in order not to spill any while drinking. It’s leaning all these little manoeuvres in order to get by which make life interesting.
I’m glad we have the internet these days as it does allow one to explore topics such as Bell’s palsy in more detail both from a medical aspect and also from a social viewpoint. There is one young American female who put her experience on YouTube associated her condition of Bell’s palsy seen on the following link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RRWM8xducY I think knowing you’re not alone dealing with a medical condition can be a comfort as you can identify with how they are living and dealing with life and the positive outcomes that can be achieved through that experience.
I have some more doctors’ visits this week and no doubt it won’t be a condition that will improve overnight.