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I’m doing the following exercises right now 3 to 4 times a day for 5-15 minutes depending on how relaxed I am. If I’m fatigued I won’t do as many. I’m completely focused on the quality of the exercise. I have to train out synkinesis so it’s relearning how your face muscles work and only firing the right ones.

• Blinking my eye slowly and symmetrically and relaxing the face muscles.
• Puckering my lips slowly focusing on symmetry. Trying to move the whistle hole to the center of my lips
• Moving my smile up from the apple of my cheek while relaxing the eye and the neck muscles.

Waking up with my face paralyzed

I woke up June 2, 2013 with an odd feeling in my face. My mouth felt tired when I spoke. I looked in the mirror to find that I was losing movement in the left side of my face very quickly. Obviously I thought I had a stroke. I could still see some wrinkles in my forehead and some movement was still there.  I went to the emergency room a few hours later and was told I had a classic case of Bells Palsy. At this point my face was completely paralyzed. The doctor said the prognosis was good and everyone treated it as it wasn’t a big deal. I was given 5 days of prednisone. The nurse gave me one in the hospital. I rested and waited 48  hours to fill the prescription. Not a great idea in retrospect, but I was just really glad that this was going to come back and like with any virus I thought rest was the key.

After 3 weeks I was supposed to have some recovery and had none. I was stressed at work and with other things in my life. I went back to work. I went back to a doctor to see what was going on. He said normally after the steroid wears off that’s when you start to see something coming back. Well, since I was only given 5 days of prednisone I was feeling a little irritated that I hadn’t been given better advice. A doctor even told me “well some of these don’t come back”. Thanks a lot. I wonder if he’d say something like that to his son or daughter.

After 2 months I’d done enough research to know there was a surgery called facial nerve decompression  for this when the case is severe. I had been to a neurologist 2 or 3 times and he was also basically saying well you still fall within the window of recovery. He gave me a lower and longer dose or prednisone and said wait and see. I asked for an MRI. I wanted to know if this was a tumor or something else blocking the nerve. The MRI just came up that I still had inflammation.

At about 2.5 months I was getting really nervous. I wanted to make sure I was doing everything I could. I was still completely paralyzed. I couldn’t shut my eye and it was really tough to keep working without being able to blink, talk normally, or form normal facial expressions. I have to say I was completely depressed and withdrawn at this point. It was all I could do to even get out of bed. I continued throwing everything I could at it. Electrostim which my neurologist recommended. Acupuncture which was really expensive and felt meaningless. Then I made a call to Loyola where I had seen a video on youtube about this surgery. I immediately booked a flight and met Dr. Leonetti. I was a candidate for the surgery which would remove the bone around the inflamed nerve. Within a week I was in the operating room.