I spent 2 weeks in that rehab unit, same thing everyday, go to physio, read books, walk to Second Cup and get a chillatte, take a nap, read, physio, eat. Man oh man, I cannot emphasize how sick of hospital food I was, after the first 2 weeks, my parents would wait for my phone call asking them to bring me in something I could actually eat. How can people eat that food? I must admit though, the vegetarian lasagna was awesome! Only meal I enjoyed though.
Luckily, I was able to go home every weekend and sleep in my own bed. At this point I was still using a walker, I still did not have a lot of energy, and my right side of my face was still not moving at all. After 35 days in the hospital, I was finally discharged. The hospital set me up with an appointment at another hospital for my face, as well as a physiotherapist that would come to my home to continue to work on my strength. I knew that I was in for a long haul, but at the time, all I could think about was going home.
Let’s start with the discouraging face appointment. I show up at this specialist’s office, we go into an examination room, she takes photos of my face, gets me to make specific facial expressions. After an hour of this, do you know what she says to me? “I have no idea if your face will recover.” Scariest words. Ever. She continues, telling me she’d never dealt with GBS before, but had worked with some Bell’s Palsy (at this point, my face looked exactly like the image on this link.) She gave me 10 facial exercises to do everyday, suggested using a hot pak on my face and rebooked me for a few weeks later. I cannot begin to explain the breakdown I had on my way home. I was terrified; how could I ever be happy/confident/the same person with half of my face paralyzed? I know that this sounds incredibly shallow, but it’s how I felt. My mom tried to reassure me, but really, what can you say when the Doctor doesn’t even have the answer?
I diligently did my face exercises, I used a hot pak on my face, and I prayed like hell. Eventually, my face did ‘come back.’ It didn’t return until about a month after my hospital discharge. So that’s 2 months of nerve damage in my face, 2 months of paralysis. I got discouraged with my exercises, how many times can I raise my eyebrows in a mirror? How long can I try and smile with my philtrum centered? Eventually, I stopped doing them completely. Maybe that’s the reason my face never 100% returned, maybe it’s just because 2 months of nerve damage can mess up a face.
Okay, okay, I’m making my face sound like it’s a mangled mess. It’s not, to be honest, most people can’t even tell my face isn’t symmetrical. But I can, and when I’m drinking or tired, so can people who knew me pre-GBS. My right eye gets really tiny, like my eyelid isn’t strong enough to stay open. My smile is always crooked, my philtrum pulls to the left (stronger) side. They’re minute residual effects, I know. But I can’t stop seeing them, I will forever see them. Now that I’ve pointed this out to you, you will notice too, guaranteed!
Let’s move on to my physio at home. It sucked! In the beginning, she came 3x a week and spent an hour or so with me, making me walk up and down stairs, do exercises on those giant balls, etc. I think the reason I hated it so much was because I used to go to the gym and run all the time, and to now be reverting back to extremely basic tasks was discouraging, frustrating, you get my jist.
Check back tomorrow for the final segment! I truly appreciate everyone taking the time to read my story.