The past two weeks of living with Bell’s palsy had not been as difficult as I had initially imagined. The words of encouragement and well wishes which I have received and continue to receive from family, friends and colleagues have been most helpful in getting me through the first few anxious days following the onset of the palsy and in overcoming continuing but decreasing bouts of insecurity. I would like to share with you a few of the conversations (or lack thereof) I have had since I first noticed that I cannot completely close my left eye.

Saturday, June 11, morning
Me:                  I’m a freak! I’m a freak!
My husband: No, you’re not. You are beautiful.

About an hour later
Me:                     I’m a freak! I’m a freak!
My husband:   (while shouting) David says, “No, you’re not.”
Me:                    When did David tell you that?
My husband:         Just now. I’m on the phone with him. He heard you.

Another hour passed
Me:                     I’m a freak! I’m a freak!
My husband:   (after a long moment of silence) No. You. Are. Not.

Yet another hour or two passed
Me:                  I’m a freak! I’m a freak!
My husband looked up from his Sudoku puzzle and shook his head.

Sunday morning
Me:                  I’m a freak! I’m a freak!
Silence. My husband says nothing, does nothing. Peace returns to our household.

Bob over Pixie
Me:                    I want the pixie cut you gave me last year.
Hairdresser:    I see. … You may want to think it over.
Me:                    I’m sure I want a pixie.
Hairdresser:      Why don’t we try this? I can cut your hair really short at the back, then keep the front at chin length. This way, if you feel uncomfortable, you can move your hair across your cheek. If you are feeling brave, you can tuck your hair behind your ear.
Me:                    But …
Hairdresser:      Shall we just try it? If you really want to have a pixie, I’m sure you can wait one more month and come back. I’m not going anywhere.

At the office
Day 1
Colleague:                You have to go back to the hospital.
Me:                              Why?
Colleague:                 Because you need to consult another doctor.
Me:                              I’ve seen two doctors.
Colleague:                There must be something that can give you back your facial movements NOW!
Me:                              Nope.
Colleague:                 But …
Me:                              I just have to be patient.

Day 2
Colleague:                 You can still drink, right?
Me:                              My doctors did not tell me I can’t drink, so I guess I can.
Colleague:                Good to hear that.

After a few days
Colleague:          It’s not noticeable if you are not talking.
Me:                       Really?
Colleague:          I notice it only when you talk but it’s more like you just have a new way of talking.

After many more days
Colleague:             You look much better.
Me:                          I look exactly the same as I did yesterday.
Colleague:             No, you definitely look much better. You’re getting better.
Me:                          I don’t think I look better.
Colleague:             I’m looking at you and I tell you that you look better.
Me:                          Thank you.

At a friend’s Blues gig
I got the warmest, longest hug from my friend. Nothing more need be said.

At the same gig, I bumped into another friend who gave me this piece of advice:

When you walk into a meeting, you do not have to say anything about your palsy. Your clients hired you for your advice, not your face. As far as your clients are concerned, that’s how you look and talk.

At a Housewarming party
I went to an afternoon housewarming party where everyone, including myself and two rambunctious kids, had a wonderful time. I have met these children before on other occasions, although they probably don’t remember me. These kids enjoyed themselves playing with and talking to the guests the whole afternoon. These adorable children did not stare at me, ask me what’s wrong with me, run away from me, or talk differently to me. I had normal conversations with them. Normal conversations.

I’m normal.

I’m not a freak.


2 thoughts on “Conversations

  1. anotherwisemonkey

    You are normal. You are not a freak. You’re also a brilliant, humane and engaging writer who’s also bravely sharing your journey through this very difficult time. This was a really heartwarming read. I’m glad you have such good people around you. They say like attracts like. Thanks for sharing and I wish you all the best.

    1. runningwithoutsugar Post author

      When this first happened to me, the fear that I’d look like a freak filled me, despite me telling myself that it’s not true and that what’s inside that counts. Yes, I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who are supportive. Thank you for your kind words. You are one of those who support me.


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