Monday, October 8, 2012

Memory Monday : My Frozen Face

Back on November 1st of 2005 I gave birth to my baby girl Anna. It had been seven days since her birth and I was home with her and my 16 month old daughter Amelia. My life juggling two kids under 16 months had just begun.

That morning I  had put on some chapstick and noticed that when I went to press my lips together I had a hard time. I thought that was really odd and kept trying, wondering why I could not control my lips. The next morning checking my lips I noticed I couldn't wrinkle up my nose... here is when I got a bit freaked out. I started to wonder if the epidural I had a week earlier while giving birth to Anna was having some odd side effect to me. I called the doctor to set up an appointment and they told me she was booked up a week out.

The next morning I still could not press my lips together or wrinkle my nose and now I could not wrinkle my forehead... this was moving up my face and I was scared. That morning I also notice that my breakfast had no taste to it. What the heck was going on?

I called the doctor again to try to get in that day. I told the nurse on the phone everything that was going on, hoping they would fine a spot for me, but they still said I had to wait until next week. Talking to the nurse she told me that "maybe I was just having the baby blues"... are you kidding me! I told her no that was not it, my face was not moving and I could not taste anything and I needed to know why.

After talking to Brian and my parents, we decided I should go to the ER and get checked out. They got me right in and seemed very concerned. I was run in to get a CT scan, they thought I might be having a stroke. I remember them also asking me to close my eyes and stick out my tongue and told me they would put something on my tongue to taste. Brian later told me he watched as they pored a whole packet of salt onto my tongue and as I tasted it I had no reaction to it at all, nothing. As I opened my eyes I remembered Brian and the nurse's face looking at me in disbelief.

After running several test I was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy, a virus that attacks the muscles in your face. Normally it only effects one side of your face, but mind effected both sides (so rare it only effects 1%). This made me an oddity in the hospital and I had several teams of student doctors come through my ICU room that day, all fascinated with my face and lack of taste. That might have been my fifteen minutes of fame... but I sure hope not!

I was able to go home that night since I had a new baby to feed. I had to take steroids to stop the virus and go to physical therapy where the taped wires to my face and shocked it... ouch! I had to sleep with goo in my eyes and patches to cover them because my eyes would not close all the way. (Great for getting up four times a night to nurse a baby). I had to drink from a straw clenched in my teeth and lift  my lips out of the way to brush my teeth.

But the worst part was having no taste, everything was so gross, even my favorite foods were just a lump of texture in my mouth. I remember crying over the food, being a nursing mom you need to eat to nourish your baby and I had to make myself eat for Anna. I also worried for Amelia, how would it be for a 16 month old with a mother that never smiled or gave you any expressions... my face was frozen solid.

It took a full month for my face and taste to start to return to normal. Some people do not full recover and I think that I went back about 98%. There are small differences in my face that I think only I notice. I know I am lucky it could have been much worse.

Me and Anna (3 months old)... both smiling.

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