When I was 35 weeks pregnant to my first baby, I suffered from Bell’s Palsy. The right side of my face was paralyzed. I couldn’t move my right eye and right side of mouth. They’re out of control.
The first day it occurred, I woke up and found myself struggling to gargle. And when I looked at the mirror to put on lipstick, I couldn’t fold my lips to spread the tint. The first thing that came to my mind was “Am I stroked?”. So I went to my husband and asked if he noticed something weird on my face. He looked at me calmly and asked if I feel okay, maybe because he saw the signs of possible stroke but I doubted because I’ve never had high blood pressure and don’t have too much cholesterol.
Bell’s palsy, though familiar to me as one prominent news anchor has it, never crossed my mind until I came to our office clinic and the nurse told me it’s Bell’s Palsy because I could still move my right hand up, it’s just the half of my face that’s paralyzed. She said it might be triggered by stress, weak immune system or sudden changes in temperature.
I researched more and found out that Bell’s Palsy is the sudden and temporary weakness of the muscles on either side of the face caused by damaged nerves.
Before the paralysis, the back of my right ear was aching; I thought it was just because it was pressed because of sleeping, always facing right but no. It’s aching because my facial nerve, known as 7th cranial nerve, that’s connected to the skull, beneath the ear and muscles on the face, is swollen.
When this nerve is impaired, its function is disrupted—affecting the sense of taste as well as the production of saliva and tears. In my case, I needed tissues as my tears kept on falling every time I glance at my computer or anything with light.
I think it’s the sudden change in temperature that triggered the inflammation. Night before the Bell’s palsy occurred, I felt hot so I took a cold bath and laid on my bed while the fan was on, blowing wind directly to my face. When I woke up, the symptoms started to appear.
As days passed, the drooping of my left face became more and more evident. I worried about myself, losing job, losing friends and most of all, I worried about the health of my baby. My OB told me that the Bell’s palsy won’t affect my baby, what’s harmful is the medication. So she didn’t give me any steroid, she just told me to “wait and see” as Bell’s palsy heals on its own. It helps to do some facial exercises to ease the swelling of the nerves. Some say acupuncture speeds up recovery but I didn’t risk being pricked as it might trigger early labour.
I was left waiting. I waited for two weeks as it’s the fastest recovery time but the seemingly slow progress got me depressed. I got depressed that I couldn’t even express my happiness during those precious moments before my little angel’s arrival. Speaking became a chore and I worried that if I didn’t appear to respond the way I should to people who converse with me, I would be misinterpreted. I thought about my husband—of him having a wife with Bell’s palsy for the rest of his life. I thought about my child when he finally comes out—how will I play with him? He may get scared and wonder why his Mom seems to be different in an unpleasant way.
But then, thanks to the people who were there to support and pray for me. After two and a half months, I finally recovered. My face returned to normal as if nothing happened.