Nutritionist Danielle Ferguson is woken up on an August morning unable to feel the entire right side of her face. The 29-year-old Californian said she had been feeling cold symptoms as well as lethargic but felt it unusual to see no other symptoms.
At night, she could already feel the tongue going numb and her jaw throbbing in pain like if ‘someone had punched her’. She woke up the next day like this:
She had her parents drove her to the hospital where she was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy. She was prescribed with an oral steroid and antivirals and was explained that her condition was caused by stress.
There was nothing she could’ve done to prevent it.
Bell’s palsy happens to about 40,000 Americans and 10,000 Britons every year. It is believed to be a weakened immune system that caused inflammation on the nerves and in this case, the facial nerves.
The nutritionist recounts her horrifying experience, “My tongue felt numb and my jaw hurt really badly; almost like someone had punched me or I was grinding my teeth all night long. Plus my smile was a bit off but nothing super noticeable.
“I woke up on Sunday to my entire right side of my face paralyzed which I was told by the nurse the prior day that this could happen.”
She added, “So, I wasn’t as shocked and afraid as I would have been if we didn’t go to the clinic the day before.”
But the condition had made her feel shy, so she reached out on social media and have connected with other sufferers. She now shares her journey to her 12k followers on Instagram.
She felt healed and supported by the community but is still self-conscious. “I do still hide my smile at times when I laugh or smile big as that is when you can really tell my smile is crooked,” says the woman.
“I am still recovering, however, in the beginning, I really tried everything I could and while the doctors told me there was really nothing I could do; I frankly didn’t believe that.”
She has also been doing acupuncture and has seen movements returning back to her face. Bell’s Palsy on the face is the most common form and can cause difficulty to close eyelids, drooling and difficulty in chewing food.
Herpes simplex virus may play a role in some cases and another suspected culprit is the Varicella zoster virus. But none of the two have been proven to be guilty.