Four years ago today I woke up with the left half of my face falling towards the floor with a case of Bell’s palsy. Four years later that side of my face works about half as well as it did for the first forty seven years of my life.
Nowadays my left eyebrow doesn’t lift or move at all and the left side of my mouth hikes up into about half a smile. Four years is a good amount of time to get used to anything and I will say that there are full days that go by when I don’t reflect on the fact that my face doesn’t work as well as it should.
What a trip! I am left with what are called residuals. I spent some time on YouTube yesterday watching videos by people that I followed at the time my Bell’s palsy kicked in. It is amazing to see people four years later whose videos I watched as a form of therapy as I tried to process what I was going through.
Interestingly, a number of us have healed in similar ways. We all look sort of normal, if not a little lopsided.
Ageing is part of the game and it often feels like Bell’s palsy is hastening the process. I watched a documentary on one of my hero’s Stephen Sondheim last week and noticed how his eyes have been gradually closing to a squint over the last twenty years or so.
I am able to watch something like that and objectively say that my left eye is not going to fare well over the next thirty years. One of my residuals is a runny eye on certain occasions when I eat.
Last night my kids and I went for ice cream after dinner and as I walked down the street with my cone, a steady stream of tears poured out of my left eye and down my face. It is weird and yet it is me. What’s a boy to do?