Friday, September 19, 2008

Bew's Fawsy

I can't blink my right eye normally. When I start concentrating on something, I forget to blink. I need to stop what I am doing and take a few seconds -and sometimes to actually use my fingers - to close my right eye. I don't plan to type for long and I will let small errors go - this is my excuse for errors in this post and is there anyway I can make this retroactive for four years to cover all my many previous errors?

Four days, fourteen hours of classes and 48 steroid pills (and many others) after being diagnosed with Bell's Palsy, i have had my second, follow-up visit to the doctor.

First, about the four days and classes. I began each class by explaining my illness and assuring them it was not contagious. Trying to talk clearly was very tiring an dgave me pains in the right side of where the spine meets the skull. I guess I was tightening muscles there to try to give that side of my face some kind of rigidity. Luckily, I had games planned for some of the classes and didn't have a lot of talking to do. I also used students to call out the roll to save my voice. Still, there were a few classes where I wanted to dopronunciation drills. The students usually couldn't hear a difference in my speaking but I really could -hence the title of this post - that is what "Bell's Palsy" sounds like to me when I say it.

Students were understanding but I am a little disappointed that only students from three classes wished me well.

It has been annoying to be unable to read for any length of time, or use the computer or even watch TV. The MP3 player has been my friend.

I have taken to eating in private to hide the way I need to push on my cheek if food falls between my teeth and right-side cheek . Also, I need to hold my right lower lip against the cup or can when I drink.

My wife and some good friends have suggested that I go to a Han-oi-won or traditional hospital for acupuncture to complement the western treatments. I am quite a sceptic, but will go this afternoon (explanations to follow).

At the doctor's office today in Asan Hospital, I heard a new set of percentages regarding recovery rates. I had been told, and had read from various sources, that 85% or so with Bell's Palsy recovery completely but today I was told thenumbers were more like 30% fully recover, 30% partially recover and 30% don't recover responsiveness in their faces. I don't think there is a missing 10%; I think he meant thirds. Anyway, this is much more terrifying! I will be looking further into this. The doctor also very clearly told me that acupuncture would not help me.

I agree with his opinion on acupuncture and felt the same way before I asked him about it despite this article from an acupuncturist in Toronto*. Still, I am willing to grasp at straws a little and getting the treatment will be easier than arguing with my wife about why I shouldn't get it.

*The Asan Hospital doctor had said that there were no studies confirming the effectiveness of acupuncture in Bell's Palsy cases and the Toronto acupuncturist's account was of a single anecdote. This reminds me of the efficiousy of headache medicines. My understanding is that most headaches fade after twenty minutes or so, regardless of treatment. For one person, having his/her headache disappear after twenty minutes proves nothing. If I get acupuncture and my symptoms fade, there is no way of knowing why or how they faded. I need to also accept the corollary - Western medical treatments are known to be unable to cure viral diseases - if the symptoms fade or remain, I cannot apply too much blame or credit to the medicine I was prescribed.

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