Eight years on with facial palsy

September 18, 2010 was the onset of my facial palsy from Bell’s Palsy. Most people recover fully. I am in the ten percent with lasting effects. 

Throughout my life I considered myself attractive and liked to smile. I haven’t smiled in eight years. At times the palsy has caused me enormous distress, but from the beginning I have known that if this is the worst health issue I have in my life I will be extremely fortunate. Initially when one side of my face went slack, I lost my wrinkles — some sort of ironic bonus!

For the past seven years I’ve been grateful to the team of dedicated physical therapists and doctors who are pioneering treatments for facial palsy patients. In fact I am patient #2 in their ongoing exhaustive research. Because of them and the work we’ve done together, most people don’t notice my palsy. At times the treatments have been painful and I can’t tell you how many bruises I’ve endured. If you watch the accompanying video I am not anesthetized or numbed. It has all been worth it. Not only for myself, but also for those who are coming along behind me and benefitting from the Team’s skill.

A few images follow. One from before onset, a painting of how I felt after onset, one of the many photos of my bruises, a video of one of the early procedures and a self portrait from yesterday. That’s as much of a smile as I am able to pull off these days.

Pamela Viola