Bell's Palsy; Onslaught

So, this is different and I thought I should write about it.

I have been diagnosis with “Bells Palsy.” Wikipedia has a nice article on the subject (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell%27s_palsy) which even my attending physician recommended.

First Day: About 4:00 PM, as I was sitting down to watch the season opener (Tigers vs. Twins; Go Tigers!), I was eating some potato chips. I noticed that I could not taste the salt on the chips on the tip of my tongue. At the time, OK, that was odd but did not rise to any level of concern. Later that night, as I was brushing my teeth, I was rinsing and realized that I could not spit with any control. It was as if my mouth was numbed from Novocaine, but without any of the tingle. Again, an odd thing which I did not pay much attention to.
Second Day: I woke and realized that I still had the numbness and started to be vaguely concerned. I had a breakfast appointment and thought that maybe whatever was going on would work itself out like the hundreds of odd little pains and phenomena of being in late middle age.
            I got to breakfast and ordered oatmeal. As I began to eat, I realized that I was having trouble with lip control and there was danger of some of my food escaping my mouth. As I was sitting there, I realized that my left eye was not acting properly, either. At that point, it came together: left tongue tip, Left lips, LEFT eye – and it seemed to be spreading. If you are a male of A Certain Age with a family history of heart problems, you are trained to be very sensitive about bodily phenomena occurring on the left side.
            So I left the restaurant and immediately headed home. I got there and after a brief discussion with my wife (“This is what’s happening. Am I being overly sensitive or particularly wise?”) we decided to get over to the emergency room. We went to the Wm. Beaumont facility in Troy and they took my story seriously.
  • Lack of control in left face: lips and eye lids
  • No pain or immediate discomfort
  • No gross weakness on one side
  • No mental confusion (or, at least, no more than usual ;-) )
They listened to my symptoms, took an EKG, and then walked me over to the ‘serious’ side of the emergency floor – which I took as Not A Good Sign.
            I got into a gown and a physician and a resident came in to see me. I kinda liked that because that meant I had a real experienced physician, as well as one very recently trained who was likely eager to impress the older one with all their fresh knowledge. The older gal had me tell my story again and the younger one performed a series of tests to determine if I had any gross weakness on one side compared to the other. No differences.
Was I numb in any affected area? No, I could feel touch and other sensations on my face.
They checked my ear canal. Apparently, there is a herpes variation that can cause numbness like this but will leave some lesions inside the ear. Nothing there but the wax that is usually present.
The older physician did most of the talking and was observing my face. She said there was a noticeable lack of movement on the left side.
At this point, it seemed like they had pretty good certainty. There was no stroke; there was no “T.I.A.;” episode; there was no sign of herpes; and all the symptoms pointed to “Bells Palsy.”
In summary, Bells Palsy is a 'diagnosis of exclusion:' if it clearly isn't A, B, or C - it is D. It is a viral attack on a specific nerve (7th cranial) that causes inflammation and therefore, loss of muscle control. It is temporary, usually (!).
I was told that, at the bear minimum, the best I could hope for was recovery within ten days and the symptoms could (would?) get worse. Likely recovery would be in the order of a few weeks.
However, in the meantime, there were some things I could do. The physician immediately gave me a few steroid-like pills and prescribed a “21-course” over the next few days. As this condition is believed to be due to inflammation, the steroids (acting as an anti-inflammatory role, rather than preparing me for a career in major league Baseball) can be helpful. She recommended I take care of my left eye as there is danger from it becoming exposed and dry; to massage the left side of my face to try and retain muscle tone; and to follow up with my primary physician (with whom she went to medical school) within the week.
That was my first day. 

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