Saturday, January 9, 2016

Clear as a Bell

Every day of her life, she wakes-up, and follows the same routine. Her feet hit the floor, she stumbles to the shower, half-sleep / half-awake she bathes, and washes/conditions her hair. 

Next, she begins to apply the base of her make-up, foundation first and lipstick next. She looks back in the mirror out of habit, and suddenly realizes what a smeared-up job she did. Her lips are crazily crooked, and the lipstick is the same; crooked. She swipes at it with a tissue and moves on.

She’s about to depart for work, standing at the kitchen counter, swallowing the vitamins that she always hopes “makes her a new woman”. Water dribbles down her chin and onto her shirt, causing her to talk to herself about her clumsiness, dabbing her shirt with a dry paper towel and wondering if this is the way the rest of her day would go.

It would be several hours before the true events would completely unfold. A co-worker would notice her drooping mouth, non-blinking left eye, and that only one-side of her face would react in a smile. She would spend several of her own hours in quiet panic, pounding-away at the keys on her computer, googling symptoms, signs, and what if’s – and worrying the worst – that she may have had a mini-stroke.

It was too late in the day for a doctor appointment – but through her own personal connections, she would see her own doctor the very next day. Intelligently, she felt like she knew she was not the victim of a stroke, but she also wondered if she had convinced herself of a better outcome, simply because every other outcome was too terrifying.

By Wednesday, December 23rd at 2:30 pm she would learn she had experienced a Bell's palsy "occurrence". 
The medical definition is this: "Bell's palsy is a form of facial paralysis resulting from a dysfunction of the cranial nerve VII (the facial nerve) causing an inability to control facial muscles on the affected side. It is thought that an inflammatory condition leads to swelling of the facial nerve. The nerve travels through the skull in a narrow bone canal beneath the ear. Nerve swelling and compression in the narrow bone canal are thought to lead to nerve inhibition or damage. Typically, the condition gets better on its own with most achieving normal or near-normal function. Corticosteroids have been found to improve outcomes, when used early, while anti-viral medications are of questionable benefit. Many show signs of improvement as early as 10 days after the onset, even without treatment."

Her face is slowly coming back to life, and her smile is creeping back-into the left side of her face. She has appreciated all the first-hand shares of experiences for something she never even knew existed before now. That people put their hearts and stories as open accounts of their own pain and fear, has meant the world to her as she walked the same path with fear of the unknown herself. 

Pay attention to the changes in your body. A wake-up call? Maybe. A kick in the keister? Absolute. 

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