It's been an eventful last few days. It all started on Thursday, June 2nd. Work was stressful as usual so I decided to go out to lunch with Mumsy (nickname for my mom). The weather has been strange and unpredictable. Even though it was sunny outside, it may not stay that way for long. When it was lunchtime, I decided to bring my umbrella just in case it started pouring.
As usual I met her outside. I am lucky enough that my mom works across the street from me. It is very convenient to go have lunch at least once a week. That day we decided to go to Hahn's Hibachi, a Korean BBQ restaurant. I ordered a hot bibimbap with beef (basically a bowl of rice in a sizzling pot topped with the meat of your choice, veggies and a fried egg that you mix together) and she ordered a combination BBQ plate. It smelled so good. The waitress gave me my coke and the side salads that came with our meals. I took a sip of my coke and dived into my salad. It tasted like it usually does, their dressing slightly sweet. However, and this is the unusual part, I lost my sense of taste! My tongue felt like there's a film covering it that prevented me from tasting my food. I thought to myself, well that's odd. But I chalked it up to the dressing just coating my tongue. I washed it down with some of my coke, which now tasted like carbonated water. Disgusting, but anyway, I pushed the salad aside and decided to wait for the main dish, one of my faves at this restaurant. My mom ended up finishing my salad. Our main dishes finally arrived and I seasoned it with soy sauce, as usual, and mixed it together. When I tasted the dish I was surprised at how bland it was. No matter how much salt and soy sauce I put in the dish it was still bland. Mumsy and I agreed that it was strange since, upon tasting the food herself, she said it was flavorful. Even dinner that night, my favorite corned beef and cabbage, was bland when that dish is usually very salty.
I woke up the next day to learn that my ordeal had gotten worse. As I was brushing my teeth and went to spit out the toothpaste, I wasn't able to pucker my lips. I ended up dribbling it down my chin. I looked at myself in the mirror and to my surprise and horror, I was unable to move the right side of my face!! No matter how much I tried I couldn't smile, wink, or doing anything with the muscles on the right side of my face! I was horrified that while my left side was moving as usual, no expression came out of the right side and it dropped slightly downward.
I went to work and called my doctor for an urgent care appointment immediately. Thank goodness I was able to be seen later on that afternoon. As nervous as I was I started typing in my symptoms on the internet and lo and behold all my symptoms matched one disorder. Bell's Palsy. My heart dropped to my feet and I began tearing up. I read all the research I could find to be fully informed, however, I didn't lose sight of the hope that I may be wrong and the doctor would be able to tell me something different. I told my boss, who I'm very lucky to have a good relationship with, and she was very understanding and slightly worried for my behalf and to let her know what was going on and what the diagnosis was.
I went to my doctor's appointment. I told Mumsy to come with me since, as my mom, she was worried about me and I kept her in the loop as to what I thought it might be. She also knew the symptoms and was afraid that it might be Bell's Palsy as well. The doctor confirmed my fears. The cause is of course unknown but I've been prescribed a corticosteroid as well as antiviral medication to combat the disorder. The doctor also asked me to consider to take some time off from work as anxiety could aggravate the disorder. She also said that I should be careful and monitor my eye's dryness due to its inability to blink when I'm working in front of a computer. After the appointment Mumsy suggested that I see an accupuncturist, one that her and my husband have been seeing, to help with stimulating the nerves and muscles in my face. Even though I fear needles I agreed to it only because I wanted to make sure that I did everything I could to speed up the healing process. I'm determined that this paralysis will be temporary.
With a sense of dread, I woke up this morning knowing that I'm going to an acupuncturist who will then stick needles most likely in my face. My husband and Mumsy accompanied me. Dr. Yan, after hearing my mom's message about my diagnosis and need for treatment, was kind enough to open up his office outside his normal working hours. The appointment lasted almost an hour. The needles weren't nearly as painful as I thought although the pricking did hurt. The most painful part of the treatment was feeling the electricity travel through the needles and stimulating my muscles, making different parts of my face twitch. The pain was bearable and would only be really painful when the electricity was too high, which Dr. Yan toned down as soon as he heard me cringe. The good news is I can now, if I concentrate hard, close my right eye fully whereas before it was still slightly open no matter how hard I tried. I still need the eye drops to keep them lubricated and the eyepatch at night to keep them closed because my right eye's natural blinking ability is still missing.
This is all pretty surreal and I can't believe I'm going through this. Why me? What caused it? No one can give me a straight answer. The disorder has made me extremely self conscious about my face. I see a significant difference when I look in the mirror, especially when I talk. Not only do I look different but eating and drinking have been quite a challenge. I don't have full use of my mouth and have the embarrassing tendency to drool or have food leak out of the right side! Suffice it to say that eating in public is not my preference right now and let's not mention that I still don't have my sense of taste.
I hope this episode will pass quickly. I'm taking my meds and will have another acupuncture appointment early Monday morning. I will keep you all informed as the days/weeks go by with my progress and hopefully I will always have some good news to share. Goodnight.