What If I Never Experienced Bells Palsy


500 Words | Writing Prompt

We face choices every day. Near misses. She gets off the train just seconds before you hop on.

Take a chance to play a scenario differently. Make a different choice, or hear a different answer, and see what happens.


It was a Sunday morning and I slept in late (sixth grader’s need a lot of sleep).  I woke up because I was baking in the afternoon sun shining through my window.  It was hot.  My hair was disheveled and stuck to my face and my eye felt swollen.  I went to the bathroom to get washed up and I heard my family assembling in the backyard for a game of badminton.  I could heard my Dad hollering, “Everybody come out and play!”

I quickly washed up and rushed downstairs to join my three siblings and parents in whacking the birdie back and forth in the yard.  During the game, my eye continued to tear and my sister commented that it looked red.  I shrugged and reasoned that it might have been pink eye or some kind of allergy.  I made it through the badminton game and dinner and went right back to bed.

My Mom woke me early to prepare for school.  My eye still felt swollen and there was a lot of tingling on the side of my face.  I figured I was still waking up so I got dressed and ate breakfast.  I was sitting on the stairs putting my socks on when my Dad said, “What’s wrong with your face?!?”  I felt a moment of dread before I asked, “I don’t know. My eye feels swollen. Is there something else?”  My Dad began frantically telling my Mom to take me to the doctor because something didn’t look right.

My Mom calmly assured my Dad that she would take me in.  She called for an urgent appointment and my normal pediatrician was not available so I was scheduled to see the pediatrician that shared the office.  After dropping off all of my siblings to school we went to the see the doctor.  He took one look at me and said, “You have Bell’s Palsy.”  He immediately referred me to a neurologist for my half-paralyzed face.

The neurologist had a booked schedule.  It took a few days to get an appointment and receive treatment.  The best part is that they told me there wasn’t much that could be done.  They prescribed me some steroids and sent me home.  They suggested that if I had come sooner there would have been more hope that the steroids would be effective but since I had been paralyzed for a few days we would have to wait and see if the steroids had any positive effect at all.

As a child, this was quite traumatic.
How could my face stop working?
What will the other kids say when I go to school?
Is this paralysis permanent?
How can I live like this?

It’s been decades and my life has been changed for the better due to this pivotal moment.   While the other kids forced me to hide in the bathroom to avoid the hurtful words, I learned that self-worth comes from within.

Who cares what other people think?
All that matters is that I love myself.

What if I didn’t choose to love myself?
What if I didn’t choose to live?
What if I allowed this moment to be the final moment?

I never would have received my miracle of healing.  It was only after I attended a healing mass that my face began to show signs of improvement.  Everyday I would try the salt test.  I would put a few grains of salt on the paralyzed side of my tongue to see if there was any flavor.  I often had to sprinkle a few grains on both sides just so I could remember the taste.  I’ll never forget the day that there was a hint of flavor.  God must have heard my prayers and helped me to choose life.

I never would have learned to deal with stress.  I have had a few Bell’s Palsy relapse scares.  Every day I look in the mirror and wrinkle my forehead, wink my eye, smile and frown, just to be sure that everything is still working.  When there are a lot of things going on I can sometimes feel the tingling starting.  The first time this happened my husband thought I was lying.  The doctor confirmed that there was some swelling on one side of my face (so I wasn’t going crazy).  But they wouldn’t prescribe anything unless there was actual paralysis.  So I went home and turned off the stress.  I would get lost in a book or make lists of things to do.  The fear of facial paralysis prevents me from succumbing to stress.

I never would have experienced and overcome depression.
The kind of depression that is triggered by childhood resentment and is shadowed by the love of a bird.  A depression that only grows deeper when the bird dies an untimely death due to fatty liver disease.  A depression that translates into hoarding.  Hoarding that is overcome by love.

I never would have known love;
the love from a husband and the love from a child.
The love of a family.


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