My name is Samantha, I am 30 years old, and I developed Bell’s palsy in March 2017 whilst I was pregnant with my twin girls. I had started my maternity leave the week before it struck and at the time, I was so pleased I was not in work. I am a nurse and I think my face would have scared my patients away at the time. Two weeks after my diagnosis I developed pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome and had to have an emergency C-section to deliver my girls at 33 weeks. As they were premature, they had to spend some time on the neonatal unit (4 weeks). I think because of this I didn’t have time to focus on my diagnosis of Bell’s palsy.
I missed my initial ENT appointment because I was busy in hospital with my twins. It was such an emotional time dealing with being apart from my girls that I didn’t even think about my Bell’s palsy, until the camera came out. Every new mum hates their first picture with their baby after spending however many hours in labour, but I despise my first picture with my babies. This has improved over the last nearly two years, and I have a few photos that I think are ok, but while I was pregnant, I imagined all these gorgeous photos I would have with my new family and sadly that is not the case now. I often feel sad that my children only know my ‘new’ face and not my ‘old face’. This is the part that I have struggled with the most, I don’t particularly care what strangers think, in my job I am meeting new people every day and getting on with it, but I just wish my children could see my smile.
It has now been nearly been two years since I was diagnosed, and things are starting to improve. I had a rocky start with access to treatment. I live in Oldham and I was initially referred to my local ENT clinic. On my first appointment I had a hearing test which was ok and a review by the doctor. He showed me some facial massage techniques to do. Three months later I had another appointment and the same consultation. Due to the fact I had very little improvement he requested a head scan which came back clear, another three months later and I saw the same doctor who gave me some very negative news. He advised me not to expect any further improvement as it had been six months and I had not fully recovered.
I asked about other options such as specialist physiotherapists, but he told me that these would not be of any help to me and suggested cosmetic surgery. I felt this was an extreme treatment option and I wanted to explore non-invasive options. That’s when I emailed Facial Palsy UK, they were so helpful and guided me to local services I could access. They also sent leaflets out to my local hospital as a prompt for any future patients.
I got my GP to refer me to a physio in Manchester. I have now been having treatment for one year which is a combination of facial therapy and electrical stimulation and I have started to see a big improvement. I have become more confident in my own face, I have a smile (not showing my teeth) that I am comfortable with. I was a bridesmaid twice in December and I felt happy – without this treatment I don’t think I would have had the confidence to be a bridesmaid, walking down the aisle with everyone watching and all the photos being taken.
I am currently waiting to see if I will receive funding to carry on with this treatment for another year.
Disclaimer: Please note that views expressed are person’s own and should not be considered a recommendation of particular medical treatments, therapies or surgeries. We would always advise you seek advice from a health professional with experience in facial palsy who can assess your individual needs.
Last reviewed: 28-02-2019 || Next review due: 28-02-2022