The cicadas have started serenading Japan again, signaling the official arrival of summer in the country. Finally, summer has arrived! Actually, summer arrived a month ago. But let me pretend that it has just arrived. I love summer. Nothing best describes summer than “fun”. Of course, dreadful things also happen in summer but somehow the summer season lightens up any misery, at least for me. My best memories were all made in summer. Nothing, not even Bell’s palsy, can ruin my summer 2016.
Summer in Japan means that the rainy season is officially over, the sweltering heat has settled in Japan once again (so far, we’ve had more dry days than humid ones), the days are longer, and the fireworks season has commenced. Summer also means that a slowER work season is in. Although clients have become much more demanding these days, many still take off on summer holidays, which means I get some down time, which is essential for recovery. With the fireworks season and summer BBQ parties in full gear, there are more reasons to meet up with friends and acquaintances. Unfortunately, with Bell’s palsy giving me some eye discomfort, I have to drop plans to learn how to surf again – but there’s always next year.
Despite my complaints when the afternoons are scorching and the nights are muggy, I love, love, love summer. Summer reminds me of my summer vacations when I was young, getting sun burned at the beach, or spending a few weeks at my grandparents’ when I spent those hot days eating green mangoes atop mango trees and armed with nothing but a small knife and a jar of salt or fermented shrimp paste, eating juicy ripe yellow mangoes and watermelons with juices running down my shirt (the best way to eat ripe mangoes requires only one’s hands to peel the skin and one’s teeth to bite into the succulent fruit, no need for knives and forks), running in the fields catching butterflies and dragonflies, watching bats fly out of somewhere at dusk, and sitting underneath the star-filled sky. Although I no longer catch butterflies and dragonflies, I cannot help but smile when I see them fluttering about, unmindful of us humans, and especially when I see Japanese children with nets in their hands. These days, while I sip something cold at the balcony on a late Sunday afternoon, I am extremely pleased just to see a few bats circling above while scouting around for mosquitoes, hopefully before these blood sucking pests get a bite of me.
I worried that Bell’s palsy would interfere with my enjoyment of the summer festivities. Thank God I was mistaken. Bell’s palsy affects one-half of my face but does nothing to hamper the fun.
Speaking of Bell’s palsy, I’m happy to share some good news. Based on a test I had a couple of Fridays ago, the reflexes in the muscles around my left ear are back to normal. I haven’t had any hearing problems but the muscles around my left ear were paralyzed after Bell’s palsy fully set in. In fact, the first sign of recovery I noticed was the return of my ability to wiggle my left ear (yes, I can wiggle my ears). My face also now registers a few movements. My left eyebrow is almost back to the same level as my right eyebrow, and I can move it slightly upon command. I can now consciously move a part of my left cheek. My husband, friends and colleagues all say that my face looks much better than in June. The paralyzed side is no longer stooping down but is slowly able to defy gravity by staying up. I’m still a long way from full recovery but I’m getting there, one muscle fiber at a time.
One interesting thing I noticed since Bell’s palsy hit my face is the effect it has on my blood glucose. My blood glucose numbers were up since I had Bell’s palsy, I guess due to stress, the inflammation surrounding the affected nerve, overall inflammation in response to the infection that caused the palsy, and possibly the medicine and supplements I’m taking to address the palsy. The only way to keep my blood glucose numbers down, without injecting insulin, is to keep my carb intake extremely, extremely low. That is incredibly hard, not to mention immensely boring, for me to do. But I’m happy to report that my numbers are slowly working their way down to pre-palsy level.
I’m typing this with the hot sun behind me and a glass of sparkling wine close by. Summer is here for a few more weeks. I hope fate does not have anything bad in store for me because I’ve had enough bad news this year. In the meantime, I mean to enjoy the rest of the hot season, and I hope that you do, too.