WTF? If you're like me, you woke up to a surprise of immense proportion: one side of your face wasn't working! "Holy shit" you said and hopefully you were in the doctor’s office immediately if not the emergency room. Why? First and foremost you want to make sure you're not having a stroke but let's just move beyond all that bullshit and get to the Bells Palsy diagnosis: "Yep, that's what it is (we think), we're not sure what causes it and you should be better in three months to two years." Yikes.
I'm three and a half months in at this writing and I've seen only small incremental improvements in terms of returning nerve functionality. No matter what anybody says it's probably a six-month sentence, minimum. That said, I wish I had it to do over again––I would have approached things much differently knowing what I know now. It's all about inflammation you see and the current medical protocol speaks to that but in the most conservative way. The doctor will prescribe a steroid like Prednisolone and an anti-viral medication, probably Valacyclovir (don't freak out, yes, its a herpes virus medication). However, there is so much more you can do to attack the inflammation or... you could just lay back and accept the six-month (plus) sentence of having a fucked up face: drooping lip, eye that won't close or produce tears, a forehead that looks like you've botoxed half of it and if you're case is a bit more severe: a loss of taste buds and a pain behind your ear. Lovely, huh?
Anyway, get your meds from the doctor and INSIST on a B-12 shot immediately and plan on getting one each week until you're well... one of the most important things you can do for the nerve inflammation. Google it but don't miss a single week. As a side note, if there is one of those storefront Any Lab Test Now places in your town, you can walk in without an appointment and get a B-12 or B-Lipo Complex for $25 and $35 respectively. I recommend the latter. Don't try and substitute an oral B-12 methyl tablet as you're just NOT going to raise your levels quick enough to fight the inflammation and nerve support.
Also, get your ass to a chiropractor immediately and tell them what's up and get an adjustment with special emphasis on your neck. It will help to relieve pressure on the swollen nerves that are causing your problem. DO IT!
From the chiropractor, go immediately to an acupuncturist! I know, I didn't believe in that bullshit either but the alternative is being conservative and accepting the six-month sentence. Remember, this is all about an aggressive attack on the nerve inflammation and acupuncture has shown to lessen inflammation. By the way, the Chinese have their own philosophy related to Bells Palsy––something about wind-in-the-channel and being related to the gall bladder or some damn thing!?!? My acupunturist also does Cold Laser Therapy (Google it) on my face. Don't ask me, but what have I got to lose? Unlike me, if you can get to it early you have a chance of mitigating the swollen nerve sheath and getting the nerve to function again within a few weeks. If not, the nerve gets destroyed and you are relegated to a much more protracted period waiting for the nerve to re-generate and that can take months... trust me––I'm living it!
What else can you do? All of the above routinely AND supplements! Make sure you're taking plenty of vitamin D––at least 3-4000mg a day: it won't hurt you and can only help. Most importantly, load up on Curcumin-Tumeric: a natural anti-inflammatory––I take six a day! And double your current dosage of Fish Oil.
Bottom line: Be aggressive as hell in terms of an early attack on the nerve inflammation and maybe, just maybe you can recover in a matter of weeks, realistically 3 to 4. Otherwise, you're in for a long haul. Yes, it can and will be depressing at times. And YOU will be far more focused on how you look than others really care about but that doesn't make it any easier. If you're like me you're vanity will be challenged like never before! That said, keep your chin up––nobody likes a whiner! The good news is that it really doesn't affect any of your other activities. I continue to exercise like a madman and I remain positive that I'm closer to the end than the beginning.
Bells Palsy usually affects people between 15 and 45. I'm 59, so I guess I should take my affliction as a compliment! A few more health facts about me if you're curious: no family history of anything of consequence. I have low cholesterol and a blood pressure of 115/75. As I said, I exercise six days a week including cycling, running and weights. I maintain a reasonably healthy diet and have been a regular supplement-taker for years: multi-vitamin, D, B, Fish Oil, Ubiquinol and regular morning protein shakes. In the for-what-its-with category, I am 6'1" tall and weigh 180 pounds and heretofore the picture of health! Shit happens and I would encourage you to get over it, not worry about the randomness of Bells Palsy and spend your time aggressively fighting the nerve inflammation––it could severely shorten your recovery time!
Last and what is really amazing is the six degrees of separation I've experienced with Bells Palsy even though I had never heard of it until I woke up with it that morning in mid-March 2015. You'll likely experience the same thing. People you know that know somebody or they've actually had it themselves. Lots of celebrities have had it including George Clooney and it seems that he turned out OK! I've also run into random people that had it at the same time as me, including a nurse at the doctors office that walked into the room to take vitals and her lip was drooping and her eye looked funny and I said, "are you making fun of me?" and we both had a big laugh! As a side note, she had taken six months to heal and just about the time she got over it the doctor's office where she worked required her and the other nurses to get a flu shot (normal procedure for health care practitioners) and her Bells Palsy came back with a vengeance! When I met her she was 12 months into her second episode! Suffice it to say I won't be getting a flu shot this year. I'll take my chances on the flu as I'd rather have a few aches and pains and puke a bit versus putting up with another episode of BP!
Good luck and keep smiling (at least on the good side).