Wednesday, March 24, 2010

. . . . . . . .Paralysis Analysis

Paralysis is a strange experience. I used to see someone with paralysis and imagine what it would be like to tell your body to move, only to feel the frustration of your body not responding. I wondered if you really could have a positive, no-fail attitude and overcome the physical challenges.

When I came out of surgery on May 13, I had grade 6 facial paralysis on my right side. There are only 6 grades, and the 6th is the worst, meaning you have no control at all and your entire face "droops" because the nerve connections are lost and the muscles no longer hold everything in the right places.

I couldn't hold any liquid in my mouth at all. I drooled while eating, drinking, and even brushing my teeth (I am now better with eating, though drinking and brushing my teeth are still challenging). My eye could not close at all (hence the surgery to implant the weight in my eyelid and place a collagen implant in my lower lid to assist the blinking process. Sadly, it didn't really work for me.). I could not smile because half of my mouth wouldn't move. My speech was slurred. I couldn't chew food well. I could hardly even open my mouth. My nose didn't (and still doesn't) "work". It doesn't run, it simply clogs all the time and the nasal passages on my right side are paralyzed.

Listing it out, it still seems like a lot, but it no longer feels that way. This is a much better place than where I was 10 months ago. I have made so much progress. Recent twitches gave way to movement of new muscles and I am seeing miracles before my eyes. I have spent a while in front of the mirror, watching my muscles move and "willing" others to move. I watch in amazement as I try to make my face move, only to realize that not only can I not make it move, I can't even feel the sensation of trying. I don't feel the muscle, the nerves, anything. It is as though there isn't anything there at all. Very strange sensation to not have any sensation. I go through the motions of what should lift my eyebrows, scrunch my forehead, wiggle my nose...and nothing. So weird.

I cannot imagine paralysis of limbs or large portions of the body. It would be very frustrating to "will" your body to move and not have it respond. I continue to be grateful my paralysis is just in part of my face. I am looking more and more "normal" all the time, as the movement returns. I am confident that in time I will return to full facial mobility. Still, I want to remember what these days are like, so I never lose empathy and understanding for others with paralysis, so I never take for granted the little things, like runny noses and brushing teeth.


britt said...

I am continually humbled as I read your posts and hear the simple things you are struggling with, that I take for granted. I can't believe it was 10 months ago. You have come a long way! I am sad I was not there for a lot of it, to be by your side and to just listen when you needed it.
Miss you!
I hope we can get together next week for your bday???

=Molly= said...

JODI! I love you and your positive attitude! <3

Annie said...


I have followed your blog for a little while. Sorry I have never left a comment:(

I can't imagine all that you have been through. I am amazed and inspired by your positive attitude. You are continually in my prayers.

I also wanted to mention something...You have talked about how you have been getting dizzy lately and you also mentioned something about your sinuses not working very well. I was thinking that in case they aren't able to find a reason for you dizziness, you should get checked for a sinus infection. A few years ago I was having some horrible symptoms...I was dizzy, I was more tired than I had ever been, I had some headaches, and I even had some tingling in my feet and hands; I could hardly function. The doctors thought that I might have MS, but after many tests, all that they could find wrong was a major sinus infection. I didn't have the normal symptoms for a sinus infection, not even a stuffy nose (maybe a little pnd). I had no idea that anything was wrong with my sinuses. Anyway, I just thought I would let you know, just in case...