Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bell's Palsy Diary: Love, Acupuncture and a Steroid

I have an update to share on the past few days of learning the tricks of living with Bell's palsy.

1) Wednesday, the day after receiving the diagnosis in the emergency room, started with Mike returning home and I felt 100% improved having him hold me again. There's nothing equal to the healing power of love.

Mike soon sent me off to see my physician Dr. Toby Dyner at the Castro Mission Heath Center. It was my first outing since my face drooped and paralyzed, and folks were concerned and glad to see me crack a half smile.

Empowered with my questions, a pad and pen, the doc and I evaluated the state of the Bell's palsy and my over all wellness. We've settled on a treatment plan for one week involving a steroid and higher dosing of acyclovir. I go back to her in one week to assess what's changed.

Dyner was pleased to hear my plan for wellness includes packing as much natural healing modalities as possible, starting with an acupuncture treatment less than hour after leaving the health center.

At the Immune Enhancement Project, my regular alternative health center, I received a neck massage and acupuncture. I felt small sensations when the needles pricked the paralyzed side, and bursts of feeling like when novacaine wears off. After the treatment, my speech was noticeably improved and could pronounce P words, which are difficult now, much better.

Before long I picked up my new meds and began taking them, before taking a nap. Spoke with my brother and sisters, hearing and seeing them did me a world of good. My sister Angela had me cracking up on Skype when she told me to tell Mister DeMille that when I was ready for my close up, it would only the left side.

Gotta laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time.

(Day eye wear protection, since my eye doesn't totally close.)

2) Thursday went well too. A whole lotta love, prayers and best wishes came my way from friends and family, and my spirits were positively and tremendously lifted. Much gratitude to all of you who wrote and apologies for not getting back to everyone.

Mike and I were having breakfast, bantering about the news in the papers, when Robbie Sweeny stopped by unannounced to cheer me up. Who has time for pity or depression when surrounded by good people and strong support? I had to make the day's acupuncture appointment.

My emotions are quite raw from the shock of the Bell's palsy diagnosis and dealing with all the changes, and don't know why but a few of the hardest messages to read and sometimes most tear-inducing ones came from ACT UP/New York colleagues. Let me also say that this message from one of them elated me: I want to remain optimistic that your "new face" will be your "temporary face." Still no amount of paralysis could still or silence that mouth of yours. 

In the evening, went to the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley to see Bela Tarr's "The Man From London" for the second time. Just what this cineaste required. An Hungarian-French art film, beautiful black and white cinematography, long takes, gloomy scenario and existentialism to the max.

3) Friday morning was my first visit to see Dr. Andy Lesko, my bone-crusher chiropractor half a block from our home. After seeing my face and saying it was good I came in for an adjustment, he said in his East Coast delivery, "So, dealing with Bell's palsy now are we?"

He runs a store-front sliding scale chiro clinic, always buzzing with volunteer massage therapists and had a short reflexology treatment at both my morning adjustments. Yeah, I saw Dr. Andy twice yesterday and the miracle worker was able to crack both sides of my neck. Just wow.

I also made it to the UN Plaza farmers' market before squeezing in another acupuncture appointment at Immune Enhancement project. This time, the e-stim electrical charges flowing through the needles in my paralyzed cheek stimulated my nerves to the point I could feel the sensation. At one point, my lower eyelid and skin near it twitched so much my practitioner saw the skin moving.

After the treatment, my practitioner who had closely looked at the paralyzed area particularly the eye, had me close the eyelids and they almost totally met to block out light. We both got, ahem, a charge out of that clear improvement.

(Night wear mask to keep the affected eye healthy and moist during sleep time.)

4) What a short strange week it's been. Other stuff. I have an ointment and drops for the eye, along with a patch for the daytime especially when out of the house and a full eye mask for naps and sleeping at night.

The benefits from the acupuncture, the e-stim and the chiropractic adjustments are genuine, felt immediately in small important ways. I'm sure the drugs are also contributing toward my improvements.

Saw Dr. Andy today, no healing appointments on Sunday, and two adjustments on Monday when Dr. Andy is open again. Next week, I'm keeping with an adjustment (probably two) with Dr. Andy and acupuncture treatment daily.

My first post about this new life path I'm on is here. Thanks again, everyone, for the love and nurturing friendship. Onward!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing what's been happening..

You know what - at least when you visit LA everyone will just think you have had a really good Botox treatment! -lol-

In all seriousness though - keep the spirits high, their are many of us thinking and hoping for the best for you


Unknown said...

You know, there are NO wrinkles on my forehead right now! Thanks for the reason to -lol-

Glenn Ingersoll said...

Strength, healing, and undying passion to you!

Angela said...

Health and humor in abundance for you!

David Hamburger said...

Michael, so glad to hear you've been doing better! The bell in the video is hilarious, and so you!

Do you know that I'm STILL getting mistaken for you in pictures from back in the day, with pics of me being tagged on Facebook as you? And my only spoken words in United in Anger are me saying "Hey, Michael" to you on the plane down to Atlanta!

It's good to see that NOTHING can ever shut you up -- as always! ;-)

Be well!

With love,