thank you frailty
thank you consequence
thank you, thank you silence
~ Alanis Morissette ~
Read My story [Part 1] // The girl with a broken smile here
i immediately made an appointment with my doctor. seated and alone, i heard… ‘You have something called bell’s palsy; you have not had a stroke…’
breathing a sigh of relief, i held my breath for more details.
‘it means that the nerve which branches out to your face from behind your ear is inflamed, we will give you medication and in about 10 days you should start to become fully functioning again.’ the doctor’s words settled my scattered thoughts; diffusing the initial questions swirling inside.
from there i was prescribed steroids, anti-inflammatories and rest, and with that having to gain compassionate consideration for the current teaching practicum i was only a little over a week into. suddenly i was thrust into a nocturnal, isolated world. pain from the inflammation kept me up into the early hours, where staring at infomercials at 2am was not an uncommon theme.
coupled with humour, i told the news to my friends and family. i carefully thought out ways of diffusing the fear of what people thought. i laughed at having to use a straw to drink, joked at taping my right eye shut at night and poked fun at myself for not being able to taste anything on the right side of my tongue. the close ones around me appeared unsure and a little taken back from how sick i looked. strangers were another situation which would prove to be a tougher lesson.
through all of this, i was on countdown, 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 day left and this would all go away, i would get my smile back, i would be ‘me’ again.
the tenth day came and the hours ticked by and the realisation that it wasn’t going to be all better reared it’s head in a very obvious way. communication lines with my father (who lived in Australia) at the time was periodic, to the say the least, and that night i was desperate and grasping at straws i rang him. i needed someone to understand how truly broken i felt, to let him know that i was not ok at the least. balling down the phone at 10.30pm, i asked for help, for a listening ear, for something to change.
my mother wanted me to return home for an early summer, but i knew i needed to complete the last requirements of my course for the year; i needed to know i had done all i could. after tying off loose ends, i headed back positive that i was healing well. ‘she’s going to be surprised at my progress’, I told myself. walking through the departure doors, i can’t forget my mum’s face and the look she gave when seeing how sick i was.
loose ends really sums up my life through this time and the way in which this infection/imperfection became a turning point.
one thing i do know is that bp should not be something that strips you of life or how you choose to live. i let it for a good while.
over the summer i worked at a local garage, serving and pumping petrol. it kept me busy with a steady holiday income as a student. at times i wore sunglasses outside to ward off difficult conversations and feel protected. one afternoon while filling up a five litre fuel container, minus the sunnies, an accident occurred where gasoline sprayed back from the container into my face. usually quick reactions occur where eyes close for protection, but without that response, fuel went into my eye and immediately began to burn. rushed to the doctors, my eye was checked for abrasions and a ‘drying out of the retina’, thankfully all was found to be ok. things like that would happen semi-regularly that would jolt me back to that feeling of being under repair, still not fully recovered.
bp became like a magnifying glass, magnifying my fear and brokenness. it stripped back all the layers. i was known for my smile and when it was taken away, it exposed a very hurting person. any girl will admit to you that their face, her emotions are shared so intricately through the slightest facial expressions, and when they are warped or restricted, people notice. this exposure, took it’s toll.
the toll it took on me was that i became afraid of large groups of people and standing up in front of others. lots of social situations to be honest. i withdrew. i suddenly found myself thinking thoughts that were very destructive and inward. becoming safe only by myself and withdrawing into my shell.
throughout this downward spiral, significant people in my life began to come around me and speak in to me. i would get notes under my door and cards in the mail. these pulled me out from the mire. they reminded me that i was not alone.
and i wasn’t, i was on a journey that would soon take a great turn…
the story continues…
we all have a story. this is one part of mine. i want to share this in hope that others will know and understand about bell’s palsy and it’s rehabilitation. please feel free to ask questions or share experiences. we can all learn so much from one another.