“The Smile Behind My Bell’s Palsy”
Ten days ago, I woke up with Bell’s palsy. At first, I thought that I had suffered a stroke. After a MD doctor’s visit and examinations, I found that I was suffering from a temporary bout of Bell’s palsy. It wasn’t painful. The doctor assured me that I will be back to my usual self in a month or two. The doctor prescribed steroids. However, while it was much harder to smile, there was a bigger smile going on inside me, behind the outer effect of the Bell’s palsy.
Through Wikipedia, I learned that Bell’s palsy affects 50,000 people in the U.S. every year. It is an inflammation of the seventh cranial nerve that connects to the eye, nose and ear. The inflammation causes temporary paralysis of the nerve. For some, the eye can’t close, so they have to tape it shut at night, and some can’t speak.
In addition to my paralysis on the right side of my face that was painless; my eye was affected and did not close. I had to tape it shut at night. It was blurry, and I was in pain. Within days, I developed an ulcer on my eye, which led me to eye doctors and a cornea specialist. After a meticulous examination, I was put on oral anti-viral and antibiotic ointments and eye drops. I am already experiencing rapid improvement every day.
With reference to the causes:
Some viruses are thought to establish a persistent (or latent) infection and remain dormant until conditions are right to evoke a flare-up of symptoms, e.g., the varicella-zostervirus and Epstein-Barr viruses, both of the herpes family. Reactivation of an existing (dormant) viral infection has been studied as a potential cause behind acute Bell's palsy. Studies suggest that this new activation could be preceded by trauma, environmental factors, and metabolic or emotional disorders, thus suggesting that stress - emotional stress, environmental stress (e.g., cold), physical stress (e.g., trauma) - anything that might compromise your immune system, in short, a host of different environmental conditions, may trigger reactivation.
I happen to believe (without a doubt) that my Bell’s palsy was brought on by stress. A couple of weeks before the onset, I was under emotional turmoil with a domineering person. It wasn’t unusual for them to cut me off (or anyone else for that matter) from their life, when they couldn't immediately have their way. I was always disappointed by this kind of behavior. However, this time when they cut me off, it was quite different. I reached a boiling point of release. In hindsight, the times I had turned the other cheek and literally turned a blind eye to this person, they only used it to turn the cards in their favor. This time, I realized that our relationship was no longer serving any positive purpose for anyone.
The truth was, it had been very rare for me to ever really stand up for myself. In a true sense, behind my smile, I felt bullied by certain people and certain behaviors most of my life. Meanwhile it seemed that others often support this type of personality and their approach, which I strongly saw as negative, bullying behavior. Their antics could possibly harm sensitive individuals who don’t always agree with them (from personal experience, I knew the effect it once had on me). I’m only too happy that I broke this cruel cycle. Bell’s palsy (from my perspective) was a sure sign to change the company that I keep. Each of us have to discern what is best for our own health and well being. Since that day, I sense a flock of spirits stirring around me and cheering me on. Perhaps everyone didn't always support the behavior as I once thought but perhaps instead they too, hesitated to stand up and speak their truth. For the very first time in my life, I believed in myself, and stood up for myself, even when others walked away.
My Bell’s palsy taught me that no one’s going to stand up for me, other than myself. The moment that I fearlessly decided not to give them my other cheek, I felt my heart smiling at a wonderful future. I see a blessed assurance of grace and health for everyone through the window of my soul.
Causes Catherine Nagle Supports
Westwind Foster Family Agency, Christian Children's Fund, Compassion International, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Invisible Children, Save the Children