This forum has been the biggest help to me! Everyone here seems to know a lot more than my doctor. I thought I would share my story in the hope that it will help others. I am a just-turned 50 year old female from California, work part-time, mother of two (one in elementary school), hoping to return to excellent health.
I came down with BP on January 10, 2014, just over 4 weeks ago. But really my story starts back at Thanksgiving (late November) when I caught a cold that just didn't seem to go away. It now appears that I had a bad sinus infection. Fast forward to December 31. I get a high fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes at the back of my head, stiff neck, sore scalp. It hurts to move my eyebrows. In fact, it hurts to move at all. Then my head and face started to swell up! First one ear, than my face, then the other ear, and finally the bridge of my nose swell up for a few days and then go down. My doctor diagnoses me with facial cellulitis and probable meningitis. I start a double course of antibiotics at once.
I start to feel better with in a few days. Then after one week I get the biggest headache of my life. Like a steel vise from the back of my neck and wrapping up around my temples. I thought my skull was going to explode. I worried it might be a bad reaction to the doxycycline so I stopped taking that antibiotic immediately. I was calling my doctor to find out what could be causing the headache -- when I realized that my face wasn't moving on the right side.
The ER did all of their tests, checking for stroke, blood clots, etc. They diagnosed Bell's Palsy and gave me a shot of prednisone in the hospital, plus a prescription for another 9 days on graduated smaller doses (60 mg, 40 mg, then 20 mg). My headache became more manageable immediately, but I still felt a great deal of pressure inside my skull and at my temples. In addition the prednisone caused extreme anxiety.
My paralysis wasn't too bad -- I could close my eye if I really tried. But still the usual problems with dry eye, dry mouth, hard to eat, blurred vision, sensitivity to light and noise on the affected side, plus pain and tenderness in the jaw, cheek, and behind the ear. I was also tired, depressed, and anxious.
By the 8th day of prednisone the low dose wasn't enough to relieve my headache, and it came back full force. Especially bad at night. Use of a heating pad helped the most, also sitting up as much as possible. I tried to ask my doctor for stronger pain killers but they continued to recommend over-the-counter -- which did nothing. I would have / should have pushed the topic -- it was terrible -- but I decided to put my faith in a local acupuncturist.
Acupuncture included massage and a daily dose of chinese herb tablets (gastrodia and uncaria). It lessened my headache immediately, and I felt a big jump in improvement within 2 days, including slight movement on the affected side. A week later, more accupuncture, and a big jump in improvement within 2 days -- more movement and now my headache was gone during the day -- only flaring when I was hungry or tired.
Now 4 1/2 weeks in, 3 sessions of acupuncture. I have 90% movement, and my headaches are occasional or mild. I still have tenderness on the back of my head and behind my ear which makes it tricky to sleep... but I'm doing okay. I still have the vision/hearing issues, but I'm able to work (I work on a computer) which is great. I'm driving around town, taking care of my kids again.
I'm not completely out of the woods. I still can't over-work, move too fast, skip a meal -- or the headache starts pounding inside my skull again. I'm hoping that my next acupuncture appointment takes me up to 100% recovery. I'll let you know.
I hope my story is helpful to someone. You have all helped me so much! Debbie, etc., thank you for all you do in keeping this board active. My heart goes out to everyone suffering from BP. Get a lot of rest, drink a lot of water, and take care of yourselves.