Crooked Smile

Hello readers! So this will most likely be my last post until the new year! I know that my first post of 2018 will be all about resolutions and the ones I made in 2017, as well as the ones I made for 2018. So if you read my blog post, titled "Life Unexpected", you know I discussed how I was struggling with Bell's Palsy. Well, two weeks later and I can officially say I healed from it! I feel really silly for being down on myself about it, but it really did make me appreciate my face more. I was making updates throughout the days and weeks on my process on Twitter, and I was surprised how it helped and gave hope to people who are currently struggling with it. I figured I may as well blog about the experience and maybe it'll give some hope to new readers.

I won't go into the full details of how this all started, since I already discussed it in a post, so if you want to know all the details, I highly recommend you reading here. If you want me to honestly give you the nutshell of it, on December 14th, 2017, my lips and half of my face suddenly became numb. I was crying uncontrollably and on the verge of an anxiety attack, to the point where I went to the hospital. After being there for a little over two hours, the doctor diagnosed me with Bell's Palsy, and my heart sank. Now that I got you all caught up, I can talk about the experience.

Now, I already had issues when it came to my self esteem, but Bell's Palsy made all those issues ten times worse. I never saw myself so ugly as I did when I had it. I felt so disgusted when I looked in the mirror, embarrassed of myself, and was even afraid to look at people or talk to anyone. The doctor prescribed me with two medications: steroids and antibiotics. The steroids were for the Bell's Palsy, and the antibiotics were for my sinus infection (the nurse and I both believe that the reason I had Bell's Palsy may be due to my sinus infection getting worse, and personally, I also believe it's because I overdid it when it came to drinking sport drinks, which have a ton of sugar).

Because Bell's Palsy is something that numbs half of your face, all symptoms are seen on the face. For me, the symptoms I had were:
-Unable to blink on my left eye
-Right eye and right side of mouth were a little droopy
-Unable to flare out my left nostril
-Talked on one side of my mouth
-Unable to whistle
-Couldn't drink on the left side of my mouth or in the middle of my mouth without a straw
-Not having taste buds on left side of tongue
-Having difficulties saying words that started with the letter F

For my Bell's Palsy, the doctor prescribed me the steroid Prednisone and the antibiotics Doxycycline. Those two medications together really messed with my sleep and energy for over a week. With the Prednisone, it really made me very tired (which didn't help that I had to take it the moment I woke up) as well as made me extremely hungry. With taking the Doxycycline, however, it kept me wide awake and I had to take it twice a day (I took one the moment I woke up and one at night, and once I took the one for the night, I didn't go to bed until 2 or 3 AM). As much as the Doxycycline messed with my sleep pattern, I will say, I love how it kept my face clear of acne for a week. The last time I saw my face that clear was in middle school, and if you're wondering, sadly, my face didn't stay clear after I finished the medication.

During this experience, I can honestly say that day one through four were the worse for me. I barely saw any improvement, I felt like my face was getting worse day by day, and I could just feel myself being disgusted with myself. I kept overthinking and questioning the medication. I kept thinking to myself, 'What if I never get better?''What if I'm the 5% that doesn't get treated by the medication?' I did a lot of research on Bell's Palsy, and I read that many people get better after three weeks, but some may get better after three to six months, or even years. I was depressed, crying every day, and just hated how I looked. I felt so miserable and saw myself as some kind of monster.

Thankfully, I have amazing friends that comforted me, assured me that I will get better, and gave me so much encouragement. If it wasn't for them, I honestly would have been negative and hated myself more and more. Once I got to day five, I started seeing small improvements! I started talking less on one side of my face and my mouth was working its way back to the center. My smile was becoming back to normal day by day, I was slowly regaining taste again, and was able to drink without a straw. The last thing that went back to normal was my eye. Today was honestly the day my left eye went back to blinking and closing normally.

I'm proud of myself for not letting the self doubt and negative thoughts overpower me. It took a lot of reassuring from my friends, but I managed to overcome the dark thoughts. Although I am happy that I overcame this battle, I am also aware that because I had exposure to Bell's Palsy, I can always get it again. It's a little upsetting to know those facts, but at least I'm prepared. If you're struggling currently with Bell's Palsy, I highly, highly recommend you go to the ER the moment you get the symptoms. It's better to catch it early than wait. Because I caught it the first day, I was able to heal quicker with the power of medication. 

So you went to the ER and got the medication; now what? Do facial exercises. You can't just wait until the medication does its magic. I truly believe that by doing facial exercises, I was able to help my face regain movement again. 

This video is what I watched every day when it came to facial exercises. AskDoctorJo's video really helped me when it came to getting my face moving. It may feel silly to do at first, but I promise, it really does help. This exercise isn't in the video, but it's something I did that helped me. Because one of my symptoms was talking on one side of my mouth, whenever I blew out air, I would blow on the left side of my face. So every day, I would push my lips together, with my index finger and thumb, on one hand, and make kind of like a duck face. I did that about five to ten times every day until I saw my lips being centered when I spoke. The next exercise I'm going to say, I don't know if it helped, but I did it regardless. When it came to my eyelid, I would gently push down my left eyelid slowly to match with my other eyelid, to get back the need to blink.

       Top left: My smile on day one                        Top right: Day five        Bottom left: Day eight                                    Bottom right: Day fourteen

       Top left: My smile on day one                        Top right: Day five
       Bottom left: Day eight                                    Bottom right: Day fourteen

There are many difficulties that people struggle with, and to the people reading this that are dealing with Bell's Palsy, you are honestly strong and amazing. I know it's tough to find beauty in you when dealing with Bell's Palsy. For days I struggled to look at the mirror, to smile, or do anything. Bell's Palsy does a number on your self esteem. No matter if you've been dealing with this for days, weeks, months, or years, you will overcome. I believe in you, you are beautiful. You may not feel beautiful, but there is still beauty in you. Don't let Bell's Palsy take away your smile, because you are strong, powerful, and an amazing person. So there's my experience dealing with Bell's Palsy. In the comments, let me know what struggles you've dealt with and how you overcame. It can be physical struggles, like Bell's Palsy, or even mental. I'd love to know your thoughts. As always, like, comment, share, subscribe, and I will see you all in 2018!

*Photo by Claudia Soraya on Unsplash