Wednesday, September 30, 2015

BELL's PALSY: DAY 5 - 6 : The happy heart...

The past 6 days have been surreal! I have really battled to come to terms with the cold, lifeless mask which constitutes the left hand side of my face.  I've had difficulty eating, drinking, speaking and sleeping (with an eye that refuses to shut on its own, and dries out at the most inconvenient of times). Literally - nothing moves on that side of my face! While the right side of my face struggles to retain its known expressions (and make up for its unwilling partner), the result is a distortion that can be frightening to people who see me. It can be funny too, but that's another story.

This is my new normal.

The easiest way to cope with the disability that comes with an attack of Bell's palsy, in my opinion, is to take stock of one's reality. It's time to accept a 'New Normal'. In a flash, everything changes. Now comes the hard work of adapting to life around it..

No longer does my face reflect the kaleidoscope of emotions that I feel.  Behind its steely facade hides the compassion, love, encouragement, peace and joy of my Lord which I seek to convey to people that cross my path. My desire is always to be a light (admittedly a little one) for the good news which is Jesus Christ. But my face no longer reflects my contagious smile, my knowing glances, my surprised moments. Joy, fear, love, hope, peace, fear are all  wrapped up in my face's icy clutches - locked away, gathering dust.

Despite the imprisonment of my own smile, my domestic worker smiled and said to me today,

"You look happier. You must be feeling better."

It got me thinking. What has changed for her to see that in my face? What does she see?

Well, its simple - my heart is happier! I'm more at peace with what has happened - more in control, more focused on the fact that this is all part of God's plan for my life. We know that 'all things work for the good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Solomon's proverb has also held true over all this time:

"A happy heart makes the face cheerful...."
(Proverbs 15:13)

I think it's time for us all to take stock of our hearts, don't you?

Sending lots of love to you, my special cyber-friends.


I would like to convey my sincere thanks to all my friends for your wonderful messages of love and support over the past few days. Your kindness - reflected in so many ways - assures me that God's family is alive and well.  God bless you all!

Monday, September 28, 2015


In a moment one’s whole world can be turned upside down. I’ve always known this fact, but never fully realised it until last Friday morning.

I’d just climbed out of the shower and was busy drying myself off when I noticed that my face felt oddly un-synchronised. There was a tingling in my cheek and my eyes weren’t working properly. I leaned over and peered into the mirror above the dressing table. I tried to blink but something was amiss. My smile too had become distorted.  My pulse started to rise as fear took over
Perhaps it will go away, I thought.  But it didn’t. The symptoms were becoming more pronounced by the minute and I started to get very scared indeed.  Should I wake my sleep-deprived-vet-student-daughter? Was my condition severe enough to ask her to take me to the hospital? Was I in the early stages of suffering a stroke?  I paced down the passage, testing various facial expressions. Was this my imagination?  I paced more and then past her room.  She opened her eyes, lifted herself off the bed  and looked at me.

“Are you ok, Mom?”

 “I don’t think so,” I said and burst into tears.
------x X x-----

The biggest thing about an attack of Bell’s palsy is the fear. As the victim, one has no idea what is happening. The symptoms are very much like a stroke?  There are more questions than answers. How bad will it be? Am I dying? Is this the life-event that I’ve always dreaded? Life stops in that moment...

Once I was at the emergency room and the ECG, blood tests and MRI were completed, and the diagnoses confirmed, I could relax a little. At that point, I simply felt gratitude: that I wasn’t dying; that my daughter was around to help me in this moment; that I had received prompt and professional care; that there is hope for a full recovery. But the attack has left devastation in its wake.  The whole of my left side of my face is paralysed.

It may take a while to recover and I also have to get accustomed to my new look – a totally lopsided face with no feeling on the left hand side; an eye that refuses to shut without manual manipulation; impeded vocal ability; a nostril that feels thick and an altered way of drinking and eating. I have to use a straw to drink and I have to be very careful not to spill the more solid food items in my attempt to get them in my mouth. I am not very “pretty” to look at either, and I feel nervous of people’s reactions of horror. I feel constantly thirsty – probably from the medication: anti-virals and cortisone tablets.  But I have my first physio appointment this afternoon. Hopefully this will be the start of a full recovery.

“Dr Google”  reassures me that most patients obtain full recovery – the majority over a couple of months. And then there is also my faith – what does God require of me now?

It’s day 4 today and I feel a lot more upbeat.  I’ve had so many beautiful messages of support, and there are many people praying for me. I feel humbled and grateful to be part of such a large family of Christ. The bible verse which keeps me constantly uplifted is the one at the top of this post.  God has got this! 

I have to accept that there are some things in life which are out of my control. It is at these times, that God challenges me to follow him in my affliction; to accept His love and to believe in His promises and the plan He has for my life. I am in awe of my Lord – how He remained close beside me in the past few days. I feel cocooned in His loving embrace.  In response,  I pray that, in my affliction, I can represent the amazing hope that is in our risen Savior: 

Jesus Christ is Lord!

May God bless you today, dear reader. May you feel His gentle, loving Spirit, wherever you may be. With love, Caryl