Bell's Palsy; Week Three

So now I'm in my third week and have settled in a bit.
One of the young men in our church is finishing up medical school and - providentially - did a presentation specifically on Bell's Palsy during his class work. He and I chatted after church yesterday and chatted about how my symptoms are playing out. It was fun to get geeky about the medical and physiological issues. I think my guy appreciated having a real case to observe closely rather than rely on the research he did for the presentation.
A couple of conclusions and observations:
  • Due to the somewhat unknown nature of the condition's cause, treatment is a confusing thing. It is a case where if the condition is treated vigourously, it will subside in six weeks; but if left alone, it will take half a dozen. That is, there doesn't seem to be much correlation between treatment and outcome
  • My case isn't as bad as some. There are stories of people who could not speak at all during the depth of their affliction. My speech has been distracting, not suitable for prolonged public speaking, and does not allow for careful conversation; but I have NOT been completely robbed of my ability to communicate
  • There is some slight improvement to report. I am tolerating being without the eye-patch for most of the day.  Several people have commented that my face is not quite as flaccid as it was last week (though it's hard to say that objectively because 'church people' really like to be encouraging!)
  • It is very possible that this could be temporary 'normal' for a couple of months. Most stories  indicate that's the typical length of the palsy
  • Progress will be slow but steady. So slight improvement is a Good Thing - I'll take it. The big fear is that this is one of the rare cases where the condition becomes permanent. But - so far - that does NOT seem to be the case
  • Eye drops are my new Best Friend. I keep my little bottle with me all day and probably apply drops about five times during the day
  • Sight in my left eye (affected side) seems to deteriorated in some way. In some way that I can't describe, it seems that it is difficult for my right and left eyes to both focus on a thing. It is not double-vision, it is just ... not right. Pardon the pun, but I am 'watching' this phenomena for further developments
  • The hearing effect that I described before (Day Eight) is a known symptom. My med student friend told me that is called, "hyperacusis." There is a muscle in the inner ear that contracts as a protection when a particularly loud noise occurs. That muscle is not working now and so I am sensitive to loud noises on the left (affected) side. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperacusis
  • I'm better in the mornings - my face sags more as the day wears on
  • It is hard to work. Subtle conversation is impractical. It is even hard to read. I fatigue more quickly
  • Because of the fatigue (above) and the fact that my body may be trying to fight off some sort of attack, I'm taking mid-day naps to keep rested
  • Particular to me: I'm very word-oriented and a "verbal processor." When I can't speak clearly or smoothly, it slows my thought processing down which is frustrating. Because of that frustration, I am finding that I'm getting a bit grouchy
So, seeing as I am likely in this for a long haul, I will slow down my frequency of updates here on the blog. As new things come in the next week, I'll update this entry and then begin a new one in about a week.

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