Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Well, it’s been weird (like my face).

Well, it’s been weird.

I decided to buck-up and go into work. Sitting at home was just going to further along my narration of feeling sorry for myself. Besides, it’s not like I have tons of vacation days and am making enough money to actually take time off. So, I came into work.

I figured I need to work, I need the pay-checks, it would be good to get out of the house, and there’s no telling how long I’ll be living with Bell’s palsy for, so I might as well live as if it’s my new normal. And honestly, it hasn't taken that long for it to be my “new normal.” It's what I've got right now.

I was the first in the office, and the next two architects in were quick to notice and ask me about it. One got pretty upset, which upset me. I guess it’s kind of upsetting to see me. I look sad I think. I'm like a puppy in a cast. Only I'm a grown human woman with a half-paralysed face.

I decided to send an e-mail out to my co-workers, explaining what happened and linking to the Bell’s palsy wiki. I mean, you can’t not notice, so at least this way people might answer their own questions. A few people I’m closer to were more upset, and were pretty empathetic.

Overall, it went well, it just takes a lot of energy to manage people’s reactions. I got upset once, and it was Monday morning talking to one of the senior architects who just looked so sad. I was saying that Friday and Saturday had been hard on my morale, and I choked up a bit.

I'm lucky to have had Friday in the hospital and the weekend to adjust. It has helped me adjust, and just kind of accept it. I felt sorry for myself, but that got old fast enough.

Eating lunch is hard, so I try and take it slow to not be gross. I drink with a straw I brought in. I don’t buy plastic straws anymore ever since watching a video of a sea turtle with a straw up his nose.

My right eye has started twitching, and I'm tired. I'm going to have to try and sleep more, and rest the eye more. It's going to be an adjustment. Daily, I guess.

Navigating the world with an eye-patch on has been something. First, I look like a pirate. But I also wear black a lot so I look like an assassin pirate I guess. It affects my depth perception. And I can't really smile. Walking around it has a nice "fuck off leave me alone" quality. But sometimes I don't want to look that way. Sometimes I want to smile. 

I went to the Kiehl's store yesterday to pick up a moisturiser I had sampled the week before my paralysis. I got the same sales rep, who was quick to be like, "You weren't paralysed last week!" Which, in fairness, I wasn't.

The other sales girls were really curious about it.

To be honest it's kind of socially interesting to see people's reactions. People really internalize it. There are some people who have really big, deep reactions. Some are clearly terrified at the thought of waking up disfigured, even if it's promised to be temporary. Some look disgusted. Worried. Some are disbelieving. People want to know why and how they can avoid it. 

To be clear, it isn't promised to be temporary. There can be lasting effects, and I'm still learning about them. But, it's still early days and I'm overwhelmed as it is so I'm trying to take it slow.

All of this reminds me of an article recommended to me on how not saying the wrong thing when you're interacting with someone going through something difficult. Apparently this is known as "ring theory." 

The illustration is by Wes Bausmith, sourced from the LA Times article.

So, according to this theory, if you're communicating "inward" (towards the person or people who are more directly affected by the illness or trauma) you're meant to be comforting. If you're looking to "dump" on someone, or "complain" and make it about you, it should be to someone who is further out from the centre of that trauma. 

The closer that person is to the bullseye (as compared to you) the more supportive you should be. 

It's a great theory. I think that there are some people who are so innately self-centred and anxious that they're unable to truly empathize outside of themselves. So presenting this theory to someone who is a narcissist, won't change that.

It's been interesting to see peoples reactions. Who says something supportive? Who can't get past what my situation would mean to them? It seems that friends who are more likely to be described as being good looking, or who would self-identify as their looks being important to them, have taken it really hard. They have big reactions. I'm guessing for them, they can't imagine going out and living a life that's disfigured. 

Being pretty has never been an identifier for me. It's not even in my top 10. But for someone who whom it's in the top 3, I can see how it would really shake them.

I think most reactions have been because I look sad. I look like I'm frowning and I'm not wearing make-up and I just look sad. So people see me and reflect that. 

I think for a lot of people, it's potentially one of the worse "temporary" medical issues they can get since it's so visible and clear. 

For me my acceptance of this, is entirely reliant on whether or not this is indeed temporary. I say that, knowing full well, if this ends up permanent I have absolutely no recourse. I mean, I'm "accepting" this first and foremost because I have no real choice in the matter. And yes, it's easier to swallow if I tell myself it is most likely temporary, but this is all guesswork. It's a great way to sooth the worries of others. I get to say, "it's supposed to be temporary."

I understand that for some it might seem obvious that it's temporary, and that it could clear up in weeks, but in the research I've seen, and in the stuff I've read so far, there does not seem to be two cases alike. I saw a 4-week heal rate in someone very young, and I've seen cases drag on over a year, with very slow progress. Some people do have permanent impairments. I've read of people going through acupuncture and referring to it as a miracle cure, like I've seen people say they went to 10 sessions and had no change. Wikipedia is saying it's mainly treated with steroids, but for now it doesn't even seem like studies are conclusive on its efficacy. 

It could be inflammation based. It could be stress based. It could come from a virus. It could a lot of things. It's described as being a diagnosis of "exclusion" in that it's not a stroke and it's not B, C, or D, thus it's Bell's palsy. 

For now it's just a ton of questions and just trying to figure things out while resting because I'm exhausted and impaired. My eye has been twitching a lot. I get muscle pain in my under jaw, like right in my mouth/jaw. 

My mom wanted to treat me last night so we had turkey burgers with bacon in it. I was eating it like a bird with the side-hole of my mouth, the only part that works. It was kind of bananas. I feel like one of those impaired background players in an Adam Sandler movie. You know, one of his buddies he casts in all his films, to act dumb and usually back-watery. I laugh out of the side of my mouth and just want to make it even weirder by completely changing my physical comedy. 

It's been weird.

It's been absurd, really.

1 comment:

  1. Hang in there. You're very brave the way you're looking at things. It's inspirational to me. {hugs}