Rose’s Story

55 years after the first episode, Rose* developed Bell’s palsy for the third time.

55 years ago, whilst in the second year of my nurse training, I developed right sided facial palsy. It was thought at that time it was caused by a draught. The only treatment was painkillers and a couple of days in sickbay. Then I had to work on the ward with shaped rubber tubing bent over my ear and hooked from the edge of my mouth to pull my mouth up. It took months to recover and I was totally humiliated.

The next year I developed left sided palsy – same again: sick bay, painkillers, but this time I had electrical stimuli to my cheek which helped a bit.

Imagine the humiliation when I was a bridesmaid to my friend! Onlookers made horrid remarks and the bride was furious with them. Again this took months to recover and I have had no bother up till now.

I recently developed an ulcer on the roof of my mouth. During a dental appointment, my dentist looked and thought it was a burn, and I continued to have one hour root canal treatment. The next day I felt my eyelid was a bit droopy. That night I had lots of pain from my occipital bone, up the back of my ear and inside my ear. No sleep. Lots of pain.

Next morning, I went to clean my teeth and my mouth had drooped. I got an emergency appointment with NHS. Diagnosis: full blown Bell’s palsy caused by the ulcer in my mouth, which must have been a herpes virus.  I was put on a 10 day course of Prednisolone (steroids) for 5 days – 60mg then reducing to 50mg, 40, 30, 20, 10 then stop; I was also given Carbomer eye gel and co-codamol from the emergency doctor.

I went back to the dentist who was very upset to see me like this.  He got another dentist for a second opinion and agreed that it was a result of this ulcer on the roof of my mouth.  They wanted me to go to my GP for artificial saliva as my mouth was so dry. I went on Monday and again on Wednesday but couldn’t get an appointment for a week and a half.  I went to the chemist and bought saliva pastilles, and also to the optician to have my dry gritty eye checked – I got eye ointment and have to tape it up at bedtime.

This is such a debilitating and frustrating condition.  I am due to go golfing to Spain in a week’s time. Thank god I have a sense of humour and my friends have all been wonderful. It is the most annoying, embarrassing and painful condition which I wouldn’t wish on anyone and to have had it now for a third time isn’t funny!

*Name has been changed for confidentiality reasons.

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Last reviewed: 05-01-2017    ||    Next review due: 05-01-2019