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The “Funny Parts” of My Bell’s Palsy Story

There were a couple of moments during Bell’s palsy that were laughable even during the moment. It’s not a funny condition or a fun experience, but it helped my family and I to be able to laugh about it.

Bell's palsy day 11, regaining some movement on my right side.

Bell’s palsy day 11, regaining some movement on my right side.

We have plenty of pirate references, still, that make us laugh, four years later. If I had not regained facial movement, that may or may not be the case.

There is a blog post on my former Invisibly Lyme Montnana blogspot blog (Bell’s Palsy and Lyme Disease ~ “BECAUSE HER FACE WAS PARALYZED”) that gives more detail on my Bell’s palsy experience, and more information on the condition and it’s relationship to Lyme disease.

But I realized just now that when I link to that post to highlight some of the “funny parts” of that experience, there is an awful lot about the story (preceding anything funny) that is informative but a bit depressing.

So for this post I’ve jumped forward to share just the funnier and/or sunnier parts from here forward:

…..Which brings you back around to all the people that understood, and could even laugh with you about all of it.  It never stops being sad, thinking about how scary it is or was  for your family (especially if you have young kids, or a Girl Scout troop), but in my house we will always laugh about mom’s pirate phase (having to wear an eye patch with a half smile, I looked very much like a pirate).

Funniest of all though, for me, is an event that sounds less than funny at first.  And it may only be funny to people who’ve been through some of what I have, or who know more of my story.  But during my EEO case, the government took back the donated leave I’d recieved during Bell’s palsy, saying I hadn’t “proven” that I had Bell’s.  I hadn’t provided a letter to my bosses at the time of onset because my bosses hadn’t needed one, and because they saw my paralyzed face.

During the investigation phase, I was on the phone with my lawyer (located in Washington DC) and the investigator (in California) and he asked how my bosses would have known I had Bell’s palsy if I didn’t give them a letter.  I described the paralysis and the drooping, the slurred speach, the drooling, and the pain.  So he asked again, “but how would they KNOW you had Bell’s palsy?”  So I explained again that they saw me during the paralysis.  After he repeated the question a few more times, my lawyer took over for me, stating, very simply and calmly, “because her face was paralyzed.”  To which the investigator repeated his question.

My lawyer repeated, “because her face was paralyzed” each time he asked again how they would “know” I had Bell’s palsy.  I tried not to laugh while my lawyer got slower and slower each time, and did so without being sarcastic or unprofessional.  It was hilarious and impressive.
When I read the investigation report, it struck me right away when I got to that section of the report, that a sentence trailed off rather unnaturally into, “BECAUSE HER FACE WAS PARALYZED.”

Seeing the words verbatim like that really struck me as funny, and still does.  I was asked to make corrections if needed, and in my own copy I made that phrase all caps.  I may have given it back to him that way, but I don’t think so.  It’ll just always be a phrase with the power to make me laugh and I will always wonder what he was getting at…..I’ve never met anyone who could fake a partial facial paralysis (or who would want to),but I’d love to watch someone try.

This was the following fall, but is one of many times I thought my smile was looking normal, but wasn't.

This was after regaining movement, but is one of many times I thought my smile was looking normal, but wasn’t.


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