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.