Sunday, September 4, 2011


Sherri, a woman in her twenties, came into work one morning and I noticed that one side of her mouth was drooping; I asked her if she were OK and she said that she had awakened feeling strange. I asked her if she had looked in the mirror. I escorted her to the Medical Department and the nurse Althea immediately called to have her taken to the hospital believing she might have experienced a stroke. I said, "I'll bet she has Bell's Palsy." Althea asked where I had gotten my medical degree and that I shouldn't say things like that in front of the employee. Of course she was right about that, but I thought she was very young for a stroke. After the employee left, I told Althea that my sister-in-law had had Bell's Palsy for awhile and that's how she looked and it had lasted several weeks. When the employee returned, the doctor had diagnosed Bell's Palsy and Sherri's only lasted three days. You can imagine that I had a lot of kidding about "diagnostic questions" after that!

I knew that Bell's Palsy can afflict one for hours, days, months or years. My friend Lee Ann had been diagnosed with Bell's Palsy when she was a young housewife and mother. It had affected one entire side of her face. Her husband was a teacher and coach and they had two children. He died quite young and Lee Ann had two young children to rear all alone. She knew that she HAD to get a job but she had never worked outside the home, having married right after high school. She knew that her opportunities for employment were limited because of the Bell's Palsy. A person for whom she was a babysitter and had beeen one of her husband's students and athletes became a Supervisor at IH. When he came to pay his respects at the funeral, he of course said the obligatory, "If there's anything I can do...." Several weeks later, the Bell's Palsy had disappeared, after 10 years! In the weeks following, as she was trying to find employment, the school had decided to name the athletic field in memory of her husband. She and the children went for the dedication. The man for whom she had been a babysitter was there and he came over and said that he could help her get a job.

She was hired in an entry-level position but with her determination she went on to become a Supervisor and her General Foreman was, yes, the man for whom she'd been a baby sitter!

Lee Ann ran the section on first shift which I ran on Second. When the 2nd Shift was curtailed she and I worked together on First Shift and we became friends and allies! She had the most winning personality and was greatly respected by workers and management alike. After being a widow for more than twenty years, she married a fellow Supervisor and helped to rear his son.

Lee Ann's hairstyle was always with bangs covering one side of her forehead. I had noticed that Lee Ann had age lines on one side of her face but none on the other. Over one summer shutdown I had gone from a shoulder-length hairstyle to a short Pixie-cut. At lunch Lee Ann was complimenting the style and said she wished she could change her hair style. I asked why she didn't and she said that the bangs covered her wrinkles. I told her she didn't have any wrinkles. She lifted her bangs and showed me on that side of her forehead were normal age-lines and the other side was smooth! She then told me about having had Bell's Palsy and said that the "benefit" of Bell's Palsy was that that side of her face didn't move so it formed no wrinkles. She said it looked so bizarre when she exposed her forehead!

When I first heard of Botox, I thought about Lee Ann. I called her and we went to lunch and she laughed and said the one side had ALMOST caught up with the other as far as wrinkles were concerned!

The nerve that is injured with Bell's Palsy originates in an area of the brain stem known as the Pons.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had Bell's Palsy!