2

Why I embrace fine lines and wrinkles

For a few months at the beginning of 2015 I had the smooth, taut, wrinkle free skin on my face that we all try so hard to recapture.  No frown lines, laughter lines, creases or any other class of wrinkles.

On half of my face only.

I was hit full force with a bout of Bell’s Palsy when my second child was exactly 4 months old.  My son’s birth wasn’t exactly a walk in the park (what birth is?), there was a lot of stress in our lives with trying to sell our apartment, family drama, a baby that just didn’t get the concept of sleep; I was tired.  Oh so tired.  And also refusing to acknowledge the murky waters of post-natal depression I had found myself in (that is deserving of a whole other blog post which I will get to).  Basically I was run down, not looking after myself, stressed and exhausted.  A sitting duck for an opportunistic passing virus.

I woke one night with an unusual headache, so unusual that I texted my headache buddy (if you get a lot of headaches you will know what I mean) to try and describe the new feelings with the latest visitor.  It passed and I got on with things.  Then two days later I took my daughter grocery shopping and I just felt awful.  I remember lying my head on the handle of the trolley in the nappy aisle and crying.  I figured I was coming down with something.  On the drive home I thought the sun was especially strong as my left eye seemed to be getting blinded.  At home I noticed my eye wasn’t really blinking properly.

I had heard of Bell’s Palsy and suspected this was where the not fully closing eye was headed.  I rang the out of hours doctor (it was a Sunday) and made an appointment for that afternoon.  The left side of my face deteriorated by the minute, it was terrifying.  The two sides of my face appeared to be existing totally separately, if I smiled only half of my mouth moved.

The GP agreed that Bell’s Palsy could be responsible but also as I described dizzy spells I had been experiencing and how I had been dropping things a lot she sent me to A&E thinking I might need a brain scan, in case it was actually a stroke.

I was whisked through A&E which was quite a shock to me as I expected a long waiting time, but is seems a woman in her early thirties potentially having a stroke will give you an advantage there over broken bones and the likes.

A number of doctors saw me in the hospital, and looked at my failing face.  By now I couldn’t move my eyelid at all or move my mouth on the left side.  The entire left side of my face was frozen, paralysed and just sitting there.  Waiting for the muscles to remember to move, but the muscles had checked out.  Bell’s Palsy was diagnosed (no need for a brain scan in the end), I was prescribed a lot of steroids, eye drops and told to keep my eye patched to protect it.

Patching an eye that refuses to stay closed is like trying to get an octopus into a string vest.  I felt enough like a side show as it was with my immobilised half-face, was achy and miserable from the virus and trying to keep up the mommy front (I even had a breast pump brought to me in A&E).  It was all just too much.

My eye was the biggest challenge.  I had to sleep (sleep being a very loose use of the word) holding my eyelid shut with my hand.  I needed to manually blink my eyelid with my hand every few seconds.  Imagine that.  Pay attention to how often you blink, and imagine having to make sure you pull your eyelid down that often, or your eye dries out.  Eye drops and eye lubricant were essential.  I used all methods of taping my eye shut to try and rest it, but it would pop open immediately inside the layers of tape and padding.  I did eventually discover a trick to try and keep the eye closed, which made for a great pirate costume.  I would put enough padding on my eye to make those green maternity pads look like light liners and then use one of those little black sun-bed goggles to hold it all in place (hubby was dispatched to a tanning shop to source these little gems), and it worked for awhile at least.  I slept like that – one sexy bed time look I tell you!

 

I was in a low place, I couldn’t go outside for the walks which were my lifeline when at home with a baby as my eye could so easily be damaged.  There was no joy to be had from my favourite foods as my left side of my mouth wouldn’t close so eating and drinking became something I just did for fuel behind closed doors.

My mother has a wonderful physiotherapist and she told her (in the early days) about what I was going through.  She practices acupuncture and told me to get to her as soon as I could.  So my treatment now expanded to include regular pins and needles up and down my arms and legs – I had been so worried there would be needles in my face but that wasn’t the case.  Whatever “lines” she was working on hit the spot.  Session by session there were little improvements and by the last one I could force my eyelid to close if I tried really hard.  Amazing progress given she admits she was worried when she first saw me as I had the worst case in respect of my eye she had seen.

It is a testament to her that there are no lasting effects at all.  Most people are left with some slight paralysis but I have escaped unscathed.  I have noticed that when I yawn my left eye tends to close but that is a small price to pay.

I wanted to share my story as when I was googling incessantly trying to read other people’s stories it was hard to come across a complete experience.  There were forums where people discussed their recovery but very little one-stop-shop beginning-to-happy-end stories.  So here it is.  I know that Bell’s Palsy is fairly common in the third trimester of pregnancy and I can only imagine how scary that must be for a mother-to-be to navigate along with all of the other changes in her body.

These days I still use all the fancy potions, creams and lotions I can get my hands on to try and try the skin clock back to my early twenties; but I don’t bemoan the existence of those lines anymore as I can’t tell you how happy I was to see them all come back when my facial nerve kicked back to life and things picked up where they left off.  The grass is always greener and everything comes at a price.  Embrace those lines, they’re evidence you’ve lived, loved and laughed.

If you would like to read more about Bell’s Palsy and the science-y medical aspect of it here are a few linkys to get you started –

Bell’s Palsy – WebMD

Bell’s Palsy – Wikipedia

Bell’s Palsy – Irish Health

Also, if anyone is going through this and has any questions, please feel free to ask.

 

Advertisements
0

His & Hers Holidays

The notion of summer conjures up leisurely images of relaxing on a pool side lounger, a book in hand and a cool drink within arm’s reach.

poolside 1

 

Like a lot of things in life, once you enter the realm of parent-dom, that notion has an expiry date.  I do cling to the hope that we will return to this glorious state once the toddlers are no longer toddlers, but that is a bittersweet thought and I don’t dwell on it too much.

Any holidays we have embarked upon optimistically with small babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers have been true tests of patience and made us realise the grass is greener at home for the moment.  In fact, I even discussed this in a newspaper article written by Office Mum.  With rose-tinted sunglasses firmly in place we jetted off to the Canary Islands not once, but twice, with babies.  I like to relive my mistakes it would appear.  My babies did not like the heat, the pool, the change to their daily routine and the days were pretty much spent tag-teaming indoors with the baby and outdoors at the pool with the 5 year old (where she was 5 of course).

With the little boy being quite a spirited and energetic child (to put a positive spin on it) we were unanimous in the decision that this year we stay put.  We do have a few nights in a family friendly hotel in Cork planned in the next while so clearly we haven’t completely given into pessimism!

However the hankering for some adult down time still persists.  So when it seemed every male in a 5 mile radius was packing his tri-colour flag and setting off to France for the Euros, I encouraged the hubby to go too.  He was a bit taken aback, but the seed was planted.  Discussions were held with would-be travel companions and then late one night a text message pinged in from a friend “The missus gave me the green light!”, and off they went.

holiday beach 1

In return, I booked a 4 night break to the sun with a friend, which is still looming in the distance.  It’s win-win, neither of us are gone for more than 4 nights so it’s manageable when you’re the one at home with the munchkins but long enough when you’re away to really relax into it.  He came home worse for wear but with memories of good time to buoy him along.  And then he started to realise I still had my trip to look forward to…  So now himself and a couple of mates are off to Madrid to a match later on in the year for a couple of nights.  Which means I am free to peruse other opportunities should they cross my path.

holiday cocktail 2

I am very much looking forward to a time when we can holiday properly as a family again, and also when the two of us might enjoy a long weekend break away together but for now the kiddies just aren’t the sort that are easily left so this works for us, for now.  Having something to look forward to (or impatiently cross the days off in the calendar..) makes me a more pleasant person to be around, so while this arrangement isn’t for everyone, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.  We all do need a break, whether we want to admit it or not.  And I sure as hell am going to make the most of mine.

Any ideas where I can go next???

images courtesy of http://www.pexels.com