I finished the corticosteroids that the doctor prescribed but did not see any improvements. So I did the unthinkable: I told my mother.
She freaked out as expected. She yelled at me for not having told her sooner and immediately called my uncle in LA who is an Asian holistic doctor and acupuncturist. He in turn yelled at her for not treating it right away.
“Western medicine still debates the causes of partial facial paralysis, and most western doctors will just tell her to live with it until the symptoms gradually disappear. But the chances for full recovery diminishes the longer you wait due to muscle atrophy…you have to take her to a doctor of Asian medicine right away. She needs acupuncture and possibly herbal medicine.”
I went to an Asian medicine doctor last night. He asked many questions, far more than the first doctor.
Have you experienced any pain behind your ear before the paralysis set in?
Have you been under a lot of stress lately?
Do you sleep through the night?
No, I almost always wake up once or twice in the middle of the night.
Do you ever experience shortness of breath?
Now that I think about it…pretty often.
Do you ever have dizzy spells or nausea while sitting or lying down?
Yes! This is actually a recent development.
He then took my pulse and listened to my heartbeat for quite some time. He told me that I have low blood pressure (I already knew that), and added, “Your heart sounds quite exhausted.”
“Excuse me?” I asked. I’m in okay shape – I can run 5 miles straight without much problems.
“You’re under a tremendous amount of stress, and your body is responding to that. Your heart sounds like it’s been constantly beating on high speed for a long time.”
The good doctor told me that my condition is due to a damaged nerve in my brain – it may even be the result of a minor stroke!
“But I’m only 27.”
“It’s more common than you think.”
He told me to lie down and take some deep breaths. He then started sticking various needles on my face and neck, and even a couple on both wrists. “The nerve is most likely permanently damaged. The good news is that our nervous system is like a spider web – you can find another way to the destination. The acupuncture will help re-wire your system.”
He instructed me to continue breathing, and concentrate on one thought only. “It’s nearly impossible to have no thoughts…just try to concentrate on one.”
A few minutes later, he returned and asked if anything felt different. Not much, I told him. He told me to continue my breathing and left the room again.
We repeated this a couple of times, when I noticed that my tongue felt different. It was starting to feel normal again!
I’ve never had acupuncture before, but it really did help. I’ll be repeating my visits with the needles a few more times, and the doctor will also give me some herbal medicine. He instructed me to continue my deep breathing exercises, try my best not to get too stressed out, steer away from situations that may lead to additional stress, and get lots and lots of rest.
He also told me to start chewing gum very slowly on the left side of my mouth to exercise the face muscles. Also, no caffeine. (Grr!)
Before I left, he asked me, “I see that you’re married. Are you planning to get pregnant soon?”
When I told him no, he looked relieved and said that getting pregnant in my condition would most certainly lead to a miscarriage or a very difficult pregnancy, probably leading to an unhealthy baby.
J and I are definitely not looking to have kids anytime soon, but this statement really stung me.
It’s true that I have been under a tremendous amount of stress lately and I confess that I haven’t been feeling my best. But to have my stress level be high enough to maybe even cause a minor stroke, to be declared mentally and physically unfit to have a baby…that really hurt.
I came home and I dissolved into tears.
Then I fell into a deep sleep, and slept a full 12 hours without once waking up.