Happy New Year!

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Happy, Happy New Year! On Tuesday night, I made my way into 2014 with a 3/4 smile, maybe even more than that. I’m so pleased at how far I’ve come in my recovery from Bell’s Palsy. It will be one month this Sunday that I was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy. I was told my face would be temporarily paralyzed. As a reporter, my face is part of my tool kit for my career. So, when I first found out I had this condition, it nearly destroyed me. I wept for an entire day and into the next day too. I was depressed and angry and questioning why this had to happen to me. Doctors told me it could take three months for there to be a substantial change to the way my face looked. I was also told, for some people, the condition never completely goes away. But prayers and perseverance paid off and the major, noticeable affects of Bell’s Palsy went away nearly as quickly as they came on. After about a week I noticed huge changes. After two weeks, I went back on the air and by the third week, you could probably not even tell I was suffering from Bell’s Palsy.

Today, I’m excited to let you know I’ve only used my eye drops one time in the past 72 hours!!! For those of you who suffered from Bell’s Palsy, you probably know how huge that is. And if you haven’t, let me put it to you this way…eye drops are your lifeline because you can’t blink on one side which means your eye gets very, very dry. Even after my face started to clear up, the dry eye persisted. I was using drops dozens of times throughout the day. This is a huge milestone for me and I’m thankful for that.

So, it appears this blog is no longer about a reporter with half a smile. Now, it’s more about a reporter who once had a half smile, but has grown into a new and improved one! Thanks again for all your prayers and support. I know this speedy recovery couldn’t have happened without you. Your words of encouragement have been monumental in helping me get over the embarrassment of my appearance and focusing more on what’s really important…my heart and my God.

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Three Week Progess Report

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It was three weeks ago my husband brought me to the emergency room and a doctor told me I suffered from a condition called Bell’s Palsy. I dealt with everything from dry eye to headaches the past few weeks. But I overcame in a big way and much quicker than I imagined.

So, with that being said, here’s an update on how I’m doing today. I anchored the weekend newscasts, so my face is pretty close to being back to normal. I’m still suffering from a minor case of dry eye, but it’s very minor. I use my eye drops sparingly. My left eye still looks a bit bigger than my right eye, but it’s barely noticeable. My smile doesn’t curve up all the way on the left side, but it’s improved quite a bit, just from last week. The second week my exhaustion was nearly impossible to manage. I’m happy to report my energy is starting to return. I still get headaches from time to time, but for the most part they have subsided. However, when I do get a doozy, I just take my ibuprofin, ask my husband to rub my neck and rest for a bit and I usually feel better. So there you have it. Things are pretty much back to normal and I am so elated to write those words down!

I wanted to pass on a great twitter page for those of you with questions about Bell’s Palsy or maybe you’re even suffering from it. Facial Palsy UK started following me on twitter and posting my blog reports. When I started following them, I realized the site is a great resource for information. It’s been really helpful for me. If you would like to follow them on twitter, here it is: https://twitter.com/facialpalsyuk

My Bell’s Palsy Survival Kit

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Hope everyone had a Merry CHRISTmas! Today, I wanted to write about what I’m calling my Bell’s Palsy survival kit. It’s all the things that have been helping me while I recover from this condition. The photo above displays everything in my “kit”. So, I’ll just write a bit about each item.

1) NyQuil. Yes, I know it’s typically used for people who have a cold, however it also helps you sleep…like a baby. That’s not easy to do when you’re suffering from Bell’s Palsy. Two NyQuil tablets and it was lights out for a straight 8-9 hours. Sleep is very important in the healing process and so these tablets really helped me to get my Z’s.

2) B12 vitamins. A woman who said she got Bell’s Palsy several times recommended this vitamin to me. I started taking it a couple days after I was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy. Now, I can’t say for sure if that’s what helped, but I did heal much quicker than most so I’m giving some of the credit, anyway, to the vitamins. I take one in the morning and one at night. Once my Bell’s Palsy is gone, I plan on continuing to take one a day as I’ve read some research that shows patients with Bell’s Palsy often times have a B12 deficiency.

3) Nivea lip balm. My lips got very dry during the process of Bell’s Palsy. This lip balm helped to keep them protected while I was at work and especially outside in the elements.

4) Vasoline Cocoa Butter Lip Therapy. This stuff is the bomb. I put it on in the morning and at night before going to bed and it helped to keep my lips moist so they wouldn’t get cracky and dry. The lip therapy along with the balm really made a difference and I would recommend using both to anyone with Bell’s Palsy.

5) Visine Natural Tear eye drops. In two weeks I went through about two bottles of this stuff. It’s great! I’ve blogged before about how the worst part of this condition is the dry eye. Well, this helped out a lot. My doctor told me it’s very important to keep your eyes protected while suffering from Bell’s Palsy. With the left side of my face being paralyzed, I couldn’t even blink and this problem made my eyes dry out quickly. That’s why the drops were so necessary. It’s been going on three weeks and I still have the dry eye, but it’s not nearly as severe and I’m using my drops only a couple times a day instead of a couple times a minute. I’m exaggerating of course, but really just a little. I mean, I used the stuff like crazy!

6) Steroids. These were prescribed to me by my doctor. New research shows that if you start on a steroid treatment within a couple of days of noticing the first symptoms of Bell’s Palsy, it can help shorten the time you have it and prevent it from becoming a permanent condition.

7) Orbit chewing gum. This was also a great tip from a woman who was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy. Since the muscles on the left side of my face were so weak, I wanted to keep them “excercised” if you will. So I chewed gum all the time to keep those muscles active. It could be difficult and sometimes painful so, I just chewed as long as I could stand it and it seemed to work quite well.

8) Camera. I took a photo of myself everyday. I think this was an important part of my “mental” healing. It took about a week, but everyday after that I could notice subtle changes. It was also empowering putting my Bell’s Palsy face on my blog. I NEEDED to prove to myself that there’s much more to me than my face. Sharing this experience with you has been very rewarding for me. Words could never even begin to describe how amazing your comments and support have been. So, thank you!

9) Bible. Many verses in the bible helped me to find comfort while I was hurting. I have so many favorite verses that I’ve shared with you along the way. Here’s one more: 1 John 5:14-15 “And this is our confidence, that if we pray according to His will, He will hear us, and give us what we ask for, because our desires are in agreement with His thoughts for us.” Everyday, I ask God to heal my face. I did not put boundaries on His power or love for me. Even though everything I read said it would take at least three weeks to notice any difference, I knew God would take this burden away from me quickly. I believed it, I lived it. But, I had no idea how quickly it would happen. My God is an awesome God!!!

10) Last but not least, “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. If you are a Jesus guy or gal, get this book. The powerful pages will be sure to touch you and bring you closer to Christ like they did me. There are so many amazing entries in this book and each one seemed to speak directly to me at just the time I needed it. Here’s just a portion of one entry, “I am leading you along a way that is uniquely right for you. The closer to Me you grow, the more fully you become your true self – the one I designed you to be. Because you are one of a kind, the path you are traveling with Me diverges increasingly from that of other people.” I think this is perfect for my struggles and what I’ve been dealing with the past few weeks. I like to feel sorry for myself, it’s a sad and embarrassing fact about me. I also like to  ask God why me? Especially, when I look around and see so many other people not struggling. Then I realized, each of us have our own unique paths and struggles. God knows those struggles bring us closer to Him…and who can argue with that?

Anyway, I hope my “survival kit” helped those of you who may be suffering from Bell’s Palsy or a similar illness. And if you’re not…maybe it brightened your day knowing that I’ve learned a lot on my journey as the reporter with half a smile.

Two Weeks Since My Diagnosis of Bell’s Palsy

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It was two weeks ago today that I found out my face would be temporarily paralyzed. I was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy. That’s definitely not something a television news reporter wants to hear. After taking it all in and giving myself a pity party I decided my best move would be to stay strong and positive. Two weeks later and I’m doing fabulous. The doctor told me it could take months to make a full recovery, but God has no limits, timelines or deadlines. I prayed this would go away quickly. I asked the Lord everyday to heal my face and He responded in a big way. From the photo posted above, you probably wouldn’t even know I have the condition. I took this photo today, 12-22-2013.

While there’s still more recovery needed, my half smile has quickly faded back into a full one. It feels great to be able to smile again! For those of you living in Little Rock, you may have also noticed I’m back on the air. I’m glad I didn’t limit my God. I’m glad I trusted Him through this process and I’m glad I put this burden in His hands. I am a revived woman and for that I couldn’t be more thankful. God works in mysterious ways and although I don’t always understand why, something tells me I don’t really need to.

Isaiah 40:31 “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

 

Bells Will Be Ringing….

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This is my latest photo. I took it this afternoon before I left for work. It’s been almost two weeks since I was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy and I’m seeing huge improvements. My smile is almost all the way back. My headaches and ear pain are gone. That is amazing! What I’m still dealing with is dry eye and exhaustion. I get worn out quick, which I’ve read is very common for patients with Bell’s Palsy. I’ve also noticed my left eye looks bigger than my right eye for some reason. I’m sure over time things will return to normal though. I’m just grateful to God I’m this far along in my recovery process. I ask for your continued prayers as my face heals.

I’ve been receiving quite a few questions through email and Facebook about the different medications I used during this process. So, I wanted to update you guys on that. When I went to the emergency room, I was prescribed a steroid. I started taking those pills right away. I was also recommended B12 vitamins. I bought the tablets that melt under your tongue. I take two a day. Another thing, I chewed gum a lot to work my muscles on the left side of my face. That could be painful, at times, but I think it did help. It was important for me to keep that side of my face strong as the paralysis made it very weak and I didn’t want that to be a problem when the Bell’s Palsy went away.

Above all else though, I tried not to stress out. I know, you’re probably thinking, yeah right! Well, I really gave myself an attitude adjustment over the past couple of weeks. I stayed as positive as I could and did not let things bother me. I’ll admit it wasn’t easy to do, but I knew high stress levels would only make this condition more difficult. So, when things got rough, I just told myself to calm down and take a deep breath. And you know what…life went on and everything was fine. It always is. So fine in fact, it looks like this reporter with half a smile will be ringing in the New Year with a new and improved smile. It will certainly be a smile that means more to me now than it ever did before!

 

A Best Friend for a Girl With Bell’s Palsy

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As soon as I saw Shadow, I smiled! Not a half Bell’s Palsy smile, but a full Melissa Schroeder smile. I don’t know what it looked like, but it felt good! Shadow is one of our four rescue pups. She’s the smartest of the bunch (sorry, but it’s true) and loves to a fault. Someone abandoned her near our home in Corpus Christi and so we took her in, it’s been one of the best decisions my husband and I ever made. Anyway, I really wish she could’ve been here throughout the beginning of my Bell’s Palsy recovery process, but with her here now, I know I will heal even quicker. She’s a little lover and I believe she knows when I’m sick or sad and will stay by my side through it all. Our other three dogs (in case you’re wondering) are still in Ohio and should be to Arkansas soon. They’re going to love their new home and big backyard.

My progress of Bell’s Palsy has been rapid. After reading stories of some people not recovering for months, I’m blessed the Lord has laid his healing hands on my face and helped to remove this burden almost as quickly as I received it. While the past several days have been a struggle both physically and emotionally, it’s been a life-changing moment for me. I can’t say I’m glad it happened, but I can say I’m glad it’s changed my outlook on many things. I think I will smile even more now! I can’t explain how weird and sad it has been not being able to smile no matter how hard you try. I hope I don’t ever have to feel that again. Right now, I still can’t lift my left eye or smile completely on the left side, but it’s definitely getting there. I continue to have dry eye, but it’s improved so much since last week. And lately, my biggest struggle has been exhaustion. I am very tired and I know that’s part of the process, but I sure hope to get my energy back very soon. It’s been rough.

Here’s a little side note for those of you finding yourself in a similar situation….although my smile has been hidden the past several days, my skin is glowing! Yes, glowing! It’s never been more clear. I thought it must be a positive side-effect of Bell’s Palsy and then I found out the steroids I’ve been taking are used to help with acne treatments! What, what??? Well, I hope this is a permanent side effect because I’m loving it. I’m a girl who likes her moisturizers, creams and masks and my skin has never been this clear or soft. So, if there’s a silver lining in all this, that is mine.

For those of you reading my blog tonight, thanks for taking time out of your day to spend it with me. Your encouragment, support, phone calls, emails, etc have been huge in helping me recover and keeping my outlook positive. With that being said, I will be taking the next three days off from blogging on Bell’s and spending some much-needed time with my mom. However, I’ll be back to tell you how things are going on Friday. I think the prognosis will be good.

Face Pain…Face Palm!

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Here’s today’s photo. Still some challenges I’m struggling with as I continue to heal from Bell’s Palsy, however…check out that smile! It’s coming back and after only about a week I’d say that is definitely God’s smile shining through.

I have read a lot about the face pain that goes along with this illness, but didn’t experience much of it until today. Ouch! I’m hoping that’s just another sign of healing though and it will go away quickly. The pain was very intense on the left side of my face. I’ve never been punched before, but I imagine it would feel something like this. The ibuprofin didn’t help either. I plan to get plenty of rest tonight and hopefully feel better in the morning. My mom has agreed to unpack/clean the new house (we just moved) while I lay around and give her orders. So it should be great! I wanted to post one more photo at the end of this blog because I think it’s kind of funny. I can’t pucker my lips, it looks so strange. Oh, also for those of you suffering from Bell’s Palsy or know someone who is, I highly recommend taking a look at this blog. It’s been really helpful for me: http://galindo.me/david-gs-bp-page/

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