In 2014, ten days after my second daughter was born, I was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy; the right side of my face became paralyzed and never fully recovered. At the time all I wanted was for my face to go back to normal. Actually, for years, I was obsessed with my facial asymmetry. As we approach the fourth anniversary of the publication of an essay I wrote about the experience, I have more perspective about the experience and what it means—and I have my older daughter to thank for it.
Resources/Stuff I mentioned in the episode
- Twelve Truths About My Life With Bell’s Palsy (Longreads)
- Ten-Minute Tuesday: Instead of asking “What if I fail?” try this question instead
- Ten-Minute Tuesday: Got Impostor Syndrome? Pretend it’s your bat mitzvah
- Catherine Apicella, pelvic floor physical therapist: “Why not me?”
- Brie Doyle, retreat leader, author, and meditation and yoga teacher: “Silence has so much for us.”
- Alison Rothman, body-centered holistic health coach: How to access strength from within
- Mother’s Day Bonus episode re: mom rage
- My interview with Kristin Duffy for The Second Chapter Podcast
- My interview with Jamie Gold on the Clubhouse Wellness Wednesdays series on do’s and don’t’s for creating a home workout space that works
- Jamie Gold, couch potato turned athlete: Risk being uncomfortable
Stuff I didn’t mention in the episode that you might be interested in anyway:
- How that essay got me featured in People magazine
- My interview with People
- Reading the essay at The Book Bar as one of the Colorado Author’s League’s finalists for the best essay of 2018 (which I later won!
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5 thoughts on “Ten-Minute Tuesday: What Bell’s Palsy and my nine-year-old taught me about self-love”
Pam, I had no idea about your Bell’s Palsy and never noticed anything off about your face (in photos, since that’s all I have). I read your article on longreads and could relate in some ways. When I had my bicycle accident in 2017 and fractured my jaw at both condyles and under my left mandible, I was left with some numbness on the bottom half of my left lip and below due to nerve damage. I also have scars under my nose and under my bottom lip that have faded with time but are still definitely there. I chipped a little tiny bit off one of my top central incisors. And last but certainly not least, after having my jaw wired shut and braces, my smile is different than before. I used to have a gummy but pretty smile, even though my teeth were a bit crooked. I got complimented on that smile all the time. Now, my teeth are straighter, the gumminess is gone (something that happened due to my accident and resulting jaw re-alignment), but my new smile still looks a little “off” to me, especially when I compare it to pre-accident photos. I’m probably the only one who notices, like you with your post-Bells face, but I get that it is a thing. I don’t obsess about it; after all, I turned 60 this year, and my face is not the youthful, cute one that smiles back at me from photos taken during my younger days. But still…I hear you, and I feel much the same. When your facial appearance changes suddenly, rather than gradually with age, it is jarring. That said, I think you are beautiful, and your smile is absolutely radiant! Thank you for sharing your journey. (BTW, the photo of me associated with this WordPress account is my “old” face from before my accident, and at least five years younger than today!)
Emily, Thanks so much for listening/reading and for chiming in! I so appreciate that you get this.