This past Friday was supposed to be a grand day, a lunch date was planned with a friend I see twice yearly, but then at 7:56 AM things changed dramatically, when I received a text from my brother.
My brother Jim: “Hi guys, I am at emergency no worries Just getting myself checked. My left side of face is all numb as is the eye…cannot blink. And hard to eat as numb as well and headache. I am thinking Bell’s Palsy at least that is what Web MD said”
My brother Jim: “But face looks a little dropped on left side”
Me: “Maybe a stroke”
My brother Jim: “Well I am getting it checked so hopefully not”
Me: “Your other sister and I are coming, don’t bother saying no”
My brother Jim: “Ok no problem not sure what is wrong. Just saw a nurse they say they will see me soon. At hospital on …..”
I immediately phone my sister, ask if she received the text message, and tell her we are going. Our brother has a fourteen year old daughter, and I think if it is a stroke, well we need to be there, especially since he lost his wife to cancer, which left him as the only parent of their daughter. Now he lives an hour away, and I am worried.
I phone our eldest daughter who lives, and works close by my brother. I didn’t really want to explain the issue, but I have to remind myself she is twenty-nine, and more than capable of handling such information. She explains she is less than a ten minute walk to the hospital, and will go right over.
As I am waiting for my sister to pick-me-up, I apprise my husband, who has just arrived home from a night shift, of the situation. Then our son, who is in Hungary calls, I have no choice but to tell him, as he can read me like a book, he says he will call his other sister to explain the situation.
As we drive to the next city, I am googling Bell’s Palsy trying not to think of the worst, (we are also bitching to each other about how he took the time to Google before driving himself to the hospital, plus was he nuts, he may have been having a stroke, and really should have called an ambulance for himself!). Both of us know we will give him shit when we see him.
It’s morning rush hour, so even with avoiding the traffic congestion, it takes us an hour to arrive at the hospital. I start texting my daughter, surprised to find out they are already finished with seeing the doctor, and are in the parking lot. We meet up with the two of them, our brother’s eye is patched, he cannot blink, the left side of his face is obviously drooping, he has a little difficulty with speaking, he is drooling, he cannot really chew on the left-side he says, half of his face is paralyzed.
He explains to us, that the night before, he face felt somewhat weird but he didn’t really think much about it, until he awoke in the morning, and the left-side of his face was paralyzed. At which point he Googled his symptoms. “You took the time to Google!” My sister, lit into him! The eldest is trying to speak over my sister, stating she already yelled at him quite well. My sister doesn’t stop, imploring to him that he is a “single parent” and he has to think first of his daughter.
After he was ‘taking to task’, we talk about Bell’s Palsy, and how odd that it just strikes out of nowhere, and what is the treatment. The doctor patched his left eye, prescribed a Corticosteroid for him in order to reduce the swelling of the facial nerve, and was told to pick up eye drops. With not being able to blink, the eye easily dries out, which of course will cause more issues. He also suggested to practice physical therapy, thus exercising the left-side of his face. We also told him to phone his family doctor for follow-up because this is serious.
We said our goodbyes, with our finger’s crossed the Bell’s Palsy would not be permanent.
The next day I phoned my brother to see if there was any change in his symptoms – there wasn’t, and asked how the conversation went when he told his daughter what was happening – he said she handled it quite well.
- Rapid onset of mild weakness to total paralysis on one side of your face — occurring within hours to days
- Facial droop and difficulty making facial expressions, such as closing your eye or smiling
- Pain around the jaw or in or behind your ear on the affected side
- Increased sensitivity to sound on the affected side
- A decrease in your ability to taste
- Changes in the amount of tears and saliva you produce
In rare cases, Bell’s palsy can affect the nerves on both sides of your face.
Note: Please do not “Google” your symptoms if you suspect something serious, any sort of paralysis, you may be having a stroke, call the emergency number for your area.