Misadventures with Bell’s Palsy…the ‘Pollyanna’ philosophy to life…

One of the many thorny issues I’ve wrestled with over the years has been the question of whether it is better to be stupid than clever. This has never been an idle speculation on my part. I’m quite serious. If one were stupid for example, one wouldn’t know they were stupid and they could just blunder through life without being troubled by any notion of consequence or foresight. They could exist quite happily, effectively unencumbered by any thoughts except those relating to their own immediate needs. Whereas an intelligent person possesses the mental acuity to discern what the likely consequence of an action might be and therefore decide if it’s in their best interests or not. A stupid person will just blunder on regardless whereas an intelligent person might weigh up the pros and cons.
Speaking of stupidity, this leads me nicely on to the fact that some of my relatives in Ireland – just to be clear, I’m saying that religious belief, not my relatives is stupid – have for some inexplicable reason taken it upon themselves to light candles and say prayers at churches for my speedy recovery. But given that I’m an atheist and make no secret of the fact – viewing religion as a fairy tale for grown ups – one questions who benefits from all of this? Perhaps they’re doing it to bask in the glow of a good deed, in this case the glow being the one candle gives off. Faith might be a great pop song, but otherwise it’s as much use as a cup of warm spit. One thing that I’ve always found deludingly contrary about some people is that whilst they condemn religion because of it’s lack of any evidence whatsoever, they somehow don’t subject homeopathy to the same evidential criteria. Have they heard about the placebo effect? Or regression to the mean, whereby almost 80% of all illnesses will get better without any intervention? But silly me, water has a memory, as proved by the glass in front of me which has a molecule that has a distant memory of once being turned into wine!
Anyway, you don’t want to read about all that!
No, I promised you unflinching details of my adventures with Bell’s Palsy and that’s what you’re about to get, although if you’re in a good mood, keep it that way by clicking here, here or here.
When I was in hospital, and the diagnosis of Bell’s Palsy was made, with it there came information, advice and a prescription. But if any mention was made of the crucial importance of keeping the eye lubricated by the constant application of creams and eye drops – because now I look like Patrick Moore with my left eye unable to close unassisted resulting in no blinking and thereby no natural lubrication of they eye – it didn’t register, and believe you me, I was paying attention!
It wasn’t a stroke, I thought! But close on its heels came the negative, ‘In what way is temporary facial paralysis good news? That it isn’t permanent facial paralysis? You’ve got a severe brain injury and now this. F*ck-a-doodle-do!’ That’s the great thing about hospitals, nowhere else is less bad than very bad news seen as good news. “Well, it’s not as bad as it could’ve been!” is a philosophy worthy of Pollyanna!
The application of cream and eye drops to keep they eyeball from drying out and risking long-term damage is in no way assisted by my lack of fine motor skills. With the cream, you apply a thin line to the lower rim of the eye socket. This requires precision and quick co-ordination, because the cream erupts as soon as the cap is removed and the cream has to be laid in a continuous movement along the rim without the nozzle actually touching the rim. As Bernard Manning once observed a different context, ”One young kiddy..cried all the water out of his body.” (If you’ve never seen the genius that is a Chris Morris wind up, please click, because the first time I saw this I laughed so much I nearly shat a cartwheel!) I would try and cry, if it wasn’t for the fact that my left eyes tear ducts seem to have joined most of the left side of my face, and gone on strike. Despite the heroic endeavors of Blue Eyes and Avril – who’s schlepped across London most nights to apply the cream – I nonetheless took myself up at Moorfields Eye Hospital on Wednesday.

I was in no small way getting increasingly concerned about the state of my eyeball and the way it felt, and I thought I needed a competent examination of my eye, so naturally I went to an eye hospital. During one eye examination I was asked to put one hand over my good eye and to read some letters off a wall with my left eye, only to discover that all I could see out of my left eye was a blurred image. The nurse bade me to take a seat and thoughts of permanent eye damage, which were coursing through my head with increasing dire outcomes, like a large gang of teenagers swarming through a bus, I realised with a sense of relief that Matthew – my support worker – had some minutes earlier put some cream into my eye and that this was a more likely explanation of my blurred vision. Although one good thing did come of it, inasmuch as it expedited my next examination. A young doctor who exuded calm authority examined my eyes and pronounced that there was no major eye damage. Naturally I thought ‘What about minor damage, what about that? Was there any? What is he not telling me?. With regard to me asking what was the best way to prevent the eye from drying out completely, he advised keeping it taped down as often as possible. Given that application of the cream is essential and also makes the skin below the eye greasy, this is not helped by the fact that none of the sticky tape isn’t that sticky. Taping the eye down sounds fine, until that is, one tries it! (Or given my lack of fine motor skills, someone else tries it.) I’d use gaffer tape, only I don’t want my eyelashes to come away each time the gaffer tape is removed. Or the top layer of skin – although that boat may have sailed by now.

On the subject of keeping my eyelid closed to prevent long term damage to the eyeball he suggested two options. The first one would involve stitching my eyelids together – sounds like an eminently logical solution to me, one to be considered. No, seriously! And as if to emphasise this point, Blue Eyes has just been engaged in the frustratingly exasperating activity of trying to tape my eyelid shut, using wholly ineffective tools! The biggest tool being me, of course! The second one would involve attaching a weight to my upper eyelid to drag it down somewhat. Naturally I thought of a Prince Albert, one could just swap the weight from one eye to the other.

Or as Blue Eye’s daughter – Little Miss Sunshine enquired when she looked at my face “Do the batteries in your eye not work?” As a way of explaining the effects of facial paralysis, batteries not working, is a delightfully simple way to explain something very complex.
Right now, it feels as if they’ll always be flat.

Next time…More misadventures with Bell’s Palsy, as a diet it’s extreme, but effective…