‘I woke up with a broken face’: living with Bell’s palsy, by Amy Green
March 1st–7th is Facial Palsy Awareness Week. A cause really close to my heart. On 22nd May 2017, I woke up with, what I jokingly refer to as a ‘broken face’. I would later find out that this was Bell’s palsy.
Bell’s palsy is a type of facial paralysis that results in an inability to control the facial muscles on the affected side.
Initially, I wasn’t scared. I had visited my GP who had diagnosed my condition, prescribed steroids and sent me on my way. I went into work, apprehensive, but determined that I would just ‘shrug this off’. As the hours went on I started to really panic. My speech became slurred, more of my face became paralysed and I had trouble with my eye closing and constantly watering. I ended up taking a trip to A&E and a few hours in and an MRI scan later – I was sent home with eye drops and a suggestion to buy an eye patch!
Getting my Bell’s palsy diagnosis
I am quite a positive person but the first few days after my diagnosis where the hardest days I have ever faced. I couldn’t eat or drink easily, as half of my face was paralysed. I was exhausted, in constant pain and felt really down about my condition and my future. Slowly, I came round to the realisation that I had this condition, but that it shouldn’t stop me from living my life as best I could. So with that epiphany – I went out and faced the world (well, the shoppers at ASDA) and have never looked back! I also quickly learned to find humour in things and I think this was a really key part of my recovery.
I joined the disability charity United Response in November 2018. They were really supportive. My manager here is really good with me and understands my condition. They couldn’t be nicer! I can honestly say they really value their staff’s wellbeing.
My Bell’s palsy recovery
It’s been nearly two years, and I am thrilled to say that I am 95% recovered. I have developed Sykenisis (the result of incorrect wiring of nerves after trauma.) but I am able to manage this with physiotherapy. I had a hard journey for the first year, I wasn’t able to fully close my eyelid for 5 months and I had to tape it closed on a night. Drinking was a mission as I didn’t have control over my mouth, so straws became my best friend. The hardest thing for me to deal with was the fatigue and lethargy.
So, why am I sharing my story? Facial Palsy is so common in the UK, yet not a lot is known about the condition and symptoms that go hand in hand with the Palsy. I also am strangely thankful to have this condition. Whilst there is no known specific cause, most medical professionals believe there is a link to stress and developing the condition.
Raising awareness of Bell’s palsy
Since my diagnosis I have completely changed my lifestyle and outlook on life. I allow myself time to rest and relax and have also learned, in the words of Elsa, to ‘Let it Go!’ My diagnosis also came the same day as the heinous attack at the MEN arena. I consider myself very lucky, as I understand more than ever that tomorrow is never promised. I want to raise awareness of my condition and to also promote the need for people to look after themselves mentally and emotionally.
Life is for living – get out there and grab it!
Written by Amy Green, Recruiter for United Response