Jun 25, 2008  •  In Personal

Partial Facial Paralysis

This past Sunday, I noticed some tingling on my left cheek, with some occasional twitches. I ignored it.

Monday through Tuesday, a numbness began to set in and progressively got worse. The entire left side of my face felt a bit dead and heavy. I constantly touched my face and checked mirrors to make sure nothing was drooping. It wasn’t, but it sure did feel that way.

I then noticed that when I smiled, it was lopsided.

Then I began to lose taste on the left half of my tongue, and my left eye was constantly tearing up with no apparent reason.

I think what really got me scared was this morning (Wednesday), when I was having my daily cuppa joe and the hot liquid began to dribble down the left corner of my mouth.

I called more than 10 doctor’s offices, trying to find one who can see me today. Why was everyone on vacation? Why was no one able to see me for at least another week? A receptionist advised, “If I were you dear, I’d run to the nearest emergency room.”

Well, screw that. I’ve heard enough horror stories from friends to know that NYC ER’s are a game of luck and chance. More often than not, you’d need to wait hours before anyone can see you (unless you were severely injured).

I kept calling more doctors, and I finally found one that was taking walk-ins today.

The doctor asked many questions and did a lot of poking. “Don’t worry, it’s probably temporary,” she said. “But just in case…” I held out my arm as she took several tubes of blood for testing.

“Is it serious?” I asked.

“Like I said, it’s probably temporary and will go away on its own.”

Forever the optimist, I implored, “What’s the worst case scenario?”

“Well, it can be Bell’s palsy. Or Lyme disease. An inflamed nerve. Brain tumor….”

She then noticed the horrified look on my face.

“But don’t worry! In the majority of cases like yours, the paralysis will go away on its own. I’ll write you a prescription for steroids to speed up the recovery.”

She told me to call back on Monday to find out the results of the blood tests. If something’s wrong, they will call me first. Great.

Until Monday, you can find me anxiously waiting near a phone. I’ll be the one with half an expressionless mask.

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