At the age of 16, I noticed the complete loss of movement on the left side of my face. My mom rushed me to the Emergency Room afraid of a stroke or worse.
The doctor quickly diagnosed Bell’s Palsy and informed us nothing could be done. He prescribed a steroid, and told us Bell’s Palsy goes away with time.
Usually a person only gets Bell’s Palsy once in their life. Long story short, I’ve gotten it four times in the last eight years, and I’m certain it will reappear again like a nemesis you don’t really want to see, ever.
Bell’s Palsy is when the primary facial nerve on either side of the face stops working. The result is muscles on one side of the face are weakened or paralyzed for an unknown length of time. The four times I’ve had Bell’s Palsy ranged from lasting two weeks to most recently four months.
Unless you are an extremely confident person, and I mean extremely, Bell’s Palsy can strip your confidence away with every, “What’s wrong with your face?” or stare from a stranger. Bell’s Palsy can cause a person to live a very lonely existence, because everyday tasks such as eating, drinking and blinking become difficult. Every time I’ve gotten Bell’s Palsy my social life in general decreased drastically.
To say it bluntly, Bell’s Palsy can be a real bitch. I know we shouldn’t choose whether or not to fulfill life experiences based on outside appearances. However, society makes it too challenging for a person who is slightly different than others.
During the 3rd trimester with my first baby the nemesis returned. This time was different, because it affected the opposite side of my face compared to the last three times. Due to this fact, my OBGYN referred me to a neurologist.
I didn’t want to go, since no doctor could help me before, but decided I should make sure there was nothing seriously wrong that could affect my unborn child.
The neurologist stuck 8 needles in my face, used an electric shock, and when all poking was finished he said I had a minuscule chance the Bell’s Palsy would go away. Excuse me? If you think running to my car to cry in the rain for a half hour is an unnecessary reaction, then stop reading this now.
Even though the last three diagnoses got better, the doubt lingered because of the neurologist’s opinion. This verdict seemed to be true and truly devastating.
Negativity raced through my mind.
I thought of not being able to smile when holding my newborn baby in my arms for the first time. I thought of not being able to make faces for baby to mimic. I thought of never kissing my husband the way we kissed before. I thought of never laughing the same way.
Then, my friend guided me to an amazingly strong woman on Instagram. Her name is Amanda Gregory, and her handle is @mytinytribe. She is a wife and a mother of three beautiful girls. During her pregnancy with her second daughter, Bell’s Palsy became a permanent part of her life.
I searched her hashtag, #ifyourewonderingaboutmyface, and learned more of her story. One of Amanda’s photo captions says, “Today marks 3 years since onset. All I can think to myself is that sometimes the things that almost wreck us, are just meant to recreate us. My face is weak but my soul is stronger.”
I thought if this awesome woman can be happy and uplifting to many around her, then I can be strong about permanently having Bell’s Palsy.
My soul found peace as I scrolled through the images and captions on the screen. Her images and words illustrate God’s view of each and every one of us: beauty. We are more than just outward appearances, because He made us beautiful through our skin and deep into our bones.
I thank Amanda for giving me hope during the sad days of Bell’s Palsy. I still follow her daily honest posts about her family. Even though the neurologist’s diagnosis ended up being false (Bell’s Palsy went away a couple weeks after baby was born), I plan on keeping her story in my heart next time that dang Bell’s Palsy returns.