(7 months one side/5 months other side)
For more on the entire process I've been through, go to this post on HERE.
June 22, 2021 - hit with Bell's palsy on the left side after I had a cold sore on that side of my face.
August 30, 2021 - hit with Bell's palsy on the right side after I had a cold sore on that side of my face.
Unknown to me, I had hypertension and diabetes, putting a stress on my immune system. I had finished my second Pfizer jab 7 weeks earlier. Any flu vaccine has potential to cause latent viruses to reeactivate, but given my diabetic condition, I was a real easy target for the cold sore virus to cause inflammation.
Here's some phases -
Everyone recovers differently. Even the two sides of my face healed differently. The left healed from the forehead down and the right side from the mouth upward. The eyebrow/forehead on the right side is 5 months along and still paralyzed, but the mouth moved quickly to smile upward.
The left eye closes normally. The right eye rolls upward as it closes and has a tiny sliver that stays open, so still healing that. I am finally over the watery eyes and stinging.
The last thing I am facing are the fine movements of the lips. The letter "P" is difficult, holding a straw with my lips, and creating an open-toothed smile are still hard.
Dimples in place and able to smile closed-mouth.
The muscles get overstressed on the left making up for the right's weakness. I massage often and do exercises. Sometimes, I simply put my face under the hot water in the shower and do the exercises there where it's warm. Other times, I take coconut oil and massage with fingertips.
Some things I noted during my Bell's...
The first weeks, I found very specific pain areas that were trigger points, mostly at the base of the skull near the neck in the back, the bony prominence, sometimes on the scalp. These are part of the inflammatory process.
The eyes were a real pain in the ass for me with constant watering and stinging, sometimes where I had to just close them for a while. I did the moisturizing eye drops and the ointment at night with the eye patches.
The time it took for things to heal on me are different than others. This is not an easy process to peg, but some things we universally find.
With drinking difficult at first, I used a straw, but when both sides were affected, I had to use a cup and work hard to make a seal.
Sleep for healing, vitamins, water, and a LOT of stress reduction were very helpful to get things moving. Some people try accupunture, steroids, etc., I just used one week of antivirals which I don't think did much of anything. It's going to do its thing when it does its thing. And controlling sugar and dropping 40 pounds took TONS of overall inflammation out of my body.
Sometimes chewing is difficult and sense of taste is gone. My taste came back pretty quickly, a couple weeks, but chewing is still kind of weird. I have to chew with mouth open and sometimes use my finger on my cheek to push food around. With the right side being weaker and still getting strong, I have to pull the lip out of the way sometimes or I bite it.
Speech is weird. I sounded like Sylvester Kitty and people asked me to repeat things. I am still having some times when certain words come out goofy and at the end of the day when the muscles are spent, it gets much worse.
My advice is -
You will have times when you think, "what if it never comes back?" Then, you kind of realize you've been living with it awhile and nothing catastrophic happened. If you had to, you could deal with the new normal. But, then you make some progress and you feel, "wow, I can totally recover!" Some people complain about long-term issues, little things like a dead spot on the corner of a lip, or an eye that squints too much when smiling, but the thing to know is you recover. You get use of the muscles again.
Be patient. Don't compare with other's recovery times and phases.
Massage the face with your fingertips, holding them in place and pressing in small circles. Reduce stress. Get rest. Do exercises. There are some great videos on YouTube. When the muscles are still paralyzed, don't make them try to move on their own. Use your fingers to help them move. Once you regain movement, you can work them on their own without help. All those tips you'll find when you research, but these are the things that have helped me.
To be honest, having this happen during the pandemic and being home most of the time and wearing a mask when out, I didn't feel half as freakish as my mind imagined.
Somewhere in this event, you gained some new life experience, having to slow down and take care of yourself, learning about something you never really knew about before, and a new focus on health.
For me, it was losing 40 pounds and getting my BP and blood sugar normal again, but also meditation. My healing meditation time is going to be a life-long commitment at this point. I don't think I realized how much I was riding myself.
It sounds crazy to say this stupid condition was a great thing, but it did give me enough warning to find out that I had hypertension and diabetes, stress, and depression/anxiety.
Hugs to all those with the evolving faces of Bell's Palsy.