Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Do you currently have Bell's Palsy? Yes
Did you experience any common "warning signs" before it set on? I had a headache and I was incredibly tired the night before I woke up to an even worse headache and swollen face, etc.
How long have you had Bell's and what percent recovered are you? I first got it almost 3 years ago, I would say I'm about 75% recovered.
What treatment, if any, did you undergo/are undergoing? When I was first diagnosed, I took prednisone and some antivirals, plus painkillers. I don't take anything at the moment.
How did treatment affect your condition? I couldn't swallow my antivirals, so i had to chew them which I'm sure affected their effect on me.
Did Bell's turn out to be a symptom of another condition? Not as far as I know.
How has Bell's Palsy affected you physically in the short- and long-term? I can't smile, or lift my eyebrow. I can't stand looking at myself in the mirror or seeing photos of myself, I look really weird. Chewing is still weird, I use my tongue to push the food around my mouth. I get really bad cramp like pain, feels like my ear is exploding.
How has Bell's Palsy affected you emotionally? I kinda became a recluse after I got it. I'm sure it's affecting my ability to get a job, and it's incredibly depressing.
How were you treated by family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers once your appearance changed? Weirdly. My family didn't really know how to take it, and they walked around on eggshells around me. They still do, a bit. Strangers look at me oddly, and I hate it. I know I'll never be able to get a job in retail or anything, because it looks so horrible. I used to pretend I'd just been to the dentist if anyone said anything, but these days I just don't answer.