Thursday, 14 November 2013

Living with the aftermath of Bell’s palsy

I woke up this morning to find pain behind my left ears and it was soon followed by weakness on the left side of my face that causes it to droop. A while later, numbness and pain conquered the entire left side of my face. Knowing the symptoms too well, I knew, Bell’s palsy is back on revenge.
I had my first Bell’s palsy attack some years back after a bout of flu and fever. When I noticed that I was drooling and the left side of my face droop, I thought I had a stroke or an early sign of stroke. Immediately I hurried myself to the emergency ward of SJMC was referred to Datuk Dr Loh Thiam Ghee, the consultant neurologist there. It was such a relief when Dr Loh explained that it is not a stroke attack but damage to the cranial nerve VII or the facial nerve.
For a few weeks after that I lose the ability to taste that naturally leads to loss of appetite. There was a constant ringing sound on my left ear which made me lost the ability to hear clearly from the left side. I had to drink and eat from the right side of my face because I was drooling. Worst of all, I had to use a tape to close my eye when I want to sleep. However, I was spared of excessive tearing and dry eye.  During this period, I have to thank my two best friends, Mavis and Jessica a.k.a Little Ben who helped to massage my face which helped to speed up my recovery.
The ordeal lasted a few weeks and slowly I regained my ability to taste. I was able to shut my eyes without the assistance of the tape. The numbness and pain goes off. However, I am one of the few unlucky ones to experience some sort of squeal after Bell's palsy. Once a while, especially after a typical tiring and stressful day or moment, I’ll experience spasm, tinnitus and hearing loss during facial movement.
According to Dr Loh, no specific cause can be ascertained and Bell's palsy is commonly referred to as idiopathic or cryptogenic, meaning that it is due to unknown causes. Therefore, there is no prevention that can be taken to ward it off.

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