Here is a picture taken of me last Sunday, April 6th. I was hiking the Wind Cave trail at Usery Pass in Mesa, Arizona.
Here’s a not-so-brief timeline of my past week:
Sunday, April 6th, 2008
I have a slight headache in the morning, but the weather is great and the hike at Usery Pass is a lot of fun. Other than the headache, I feel great. Later in the day, I begin to notice that when I eat, I am losing my sense of taste on the right side of my tongue. It also kind of feels like that feeling after you burn your tongue on hot food, sort of numb and tingly. It is about this time that my headache comes back and the area at the base of my skull, behind my right ear, starts aching and feeling sore.
It’s springtime here in the desert, with everything blooming like crazy so I figure maybe it’s allergies (which I don’t normally have), dust or the dryness that is causing the headache. I take some ibuprofen, which seems to help, and go to bed.
Monday, April 7th, 2008
Back to work on Monday. I work in the training department for a large domain registrar and hosting company in Arizona. Pretty much a normal day. Busy, with lot’s of projects going on. Again, I’m feel pretty good most of the day. Near the end of today, the headache and aching return and I’m feeling pretty worn out.
Tuesday, April 8th, 2008
Wrapping up the final touches on a pilot project at work. A lot of time working at the computer with earphones in, listening to Pandora and NPR. I’ve got plans to meet some friends for happy hour at B-Dub’s (aka Buffalo Wild Wings) after work, between 5 and 5:30pm.
I show up at happy hour, eat a dozen wings and have two Blue Moons (it’s a beer). The loss of taste and numbness in my tongue seem a little more pronounced. I stay for a couple of hours. Before I leave, I’m laughing at someone’s joke and I notice the muscles on the right side of my face are kind of sluggish. I’m starting to think maybe I have a sinus infection or something. I go home, watch American Idol and go to bed.
Wednesday, April 9th, 2008 – Day 1
I wake up in the morning and my face doesn’t feel right. My right eye is dry and kind of “goopy”. I make some coffee and I find I’m not able to drink very well. While getting ready for work, I look in the mirror and noticed that my right eye and the right side of my mouth are drooping down. This is when I start to get a little scared. I’ve been seeing several commercials lately about recognizing the signs of a stroke and it’s the first thing that comes to mind. I finish getting ready, and brush my teeth, with obvious difficulty spitting out the toothpaste. I decide to go Urgent Care before going to work.
I get to Urgent Care, explain what I’ve been experiencing and that I think I might have some kind of sinus infection or maybe pink eye. The doctor looks at me and says, “I’m almost 100% sure you’ve got Bell’s Palsy”. He does some other tests to eliminate a possible stroke or other condition.
“This usually clears up on its in 8 to 10 weeks.” Eight to ten weeks. That’s two to two and a half months. Not what I was expecting. They’re not sure what causes Bell’s Palsy, but it’s probably due to some kind of trauma or infection to Cranial Nerve 7.
I go to work, and as you can probably guess, I’m pretty self-conscious about how I look. I’m trying to talk to people with the “good” side of my face, and I feel the obligation to explain what’s been going on. Most people say they wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t pointed it out. More on the experience at work later.
I’ve been prescribed an anti-viral medication, five times a day for the next ten days. I also need to follow up with my regular doctor next week. Since my right eye doesn’t close on its own, I have to use artificial tears to keep my eye moist – letting it dry out can damage the cornea. In addition to the artificial tears, I’ve purchased an eye patch to wear whenever the eye gets tired. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to let out my inner pirate. Arrrggghhh!!
My head and the area behind my ear are still aching on and off. With ibuprofen, eye drops and my eye patch, I’m off to bed.
Thursday, April 10th, 2008 – Day 2
I must have rolled over while I was sleeping during the night and slept on the eye patch. When I woke up, the area around my eye was a little swollen and there was this nice ring around my eye from the patch. I’ll have to be more careful with that going forward.
Today at work, it seemed that the loss of muscular control became a little more pronounced while I’ve been speaking. B’s and P’s are the letters that seem to cause the most problem.
I had a couple of training sessions that I was scheduled to facilitate. All I could do was suck it up and work through it. The people I work with have been incredibly supportive. That’s one thing that I think is most important. Having a few people to confide in when the confidence and optimism takes a dip. Considering everything, it was a really good day.
Friday, April 11th, 2008 – Day 3
About the same as yesterday. There are moments throughout the day when I seem to feel small improvements. My right eye is much more sensitive to light so I have a couple of the fluorescent bulbs removed from the overhead lighting to dim my office a bit. I’ve been wearing glasses while working at the computer and that seems to help as well. Still, I find myself getting fatigued quickly and I end up going home early today. I’m hoping with the weekend to rest and recuperate that I’ll feel better by Monday.
Saturday, April 12th, 2008 – Day 4
Here I am this morning with my first pictures since this all started. My goal is to take the same series of pictures throughout the recovery process. Hopefully I can see some progress soon.
I’ll ask my doctor when I see him what level of paralysis I’m experiencing.
I’m still deciding how often to post progress pictures but probably not daily. It’s kind of like the saying about “a watched pot never boils”. I don’t want to be discouraged by not seeing improvements fast enough. I also think about those that are trying to lose weight. If you look at the scale too frequently it can be a de-motivator. So , with that, maybe once or twice a week.
Aside from that, I’ll share more as often as I can. The appointment with regular doctor is Monday morning and we’ll see what he recommends.