Wednesday, August 9, 2017

My Seventh Nerve / Mi Séptimo Nervio

La versión español está después de las dos fotos.

TO CONTINUE MY story (see yesterday's post) about Lyme Disease, I have tried to wind things up as quickly as possible (without much success).

San Geraldo, his mother, Alice, and I had been on Cape Cod with friends for a little escape when my pain started. The next day we went to the hospital emergency room in Hyannis, but there had been a fatal car accident and I felt like I would simply be in the way. So, we drove home to Connecticut the next day and I saw my personal doctor who was awful. After about a week and a half of pain and partial facial paralysis, the other side of my face dropped. I now had no muscle control in my entire face. My doctor treated me like a hypochondriac. I found another doctor who said she didn't know much about Lyme Disease but phoned Yale University's specialist who said the symptoms indicated Lyme Disease. She got me in that afternoon. He did a rush blood test, but told me it was likely neurological Lyme Disease and it was important to immediately begin antibiotics. He said, if there was no quick improvement in my symptoms, I would have to be admitted to the hospital.

I was lucky then that my head and neck pains quickly eased. My face remained completely paralyzed. There was a possibility it would never recover and I surprised myself by accepting I might have to get used to living that way. The results came back quickly and I did in fact have neurological Lyme Disease.

My eyes would not close, so I had to sleep with bandages to protect them from damage. That was disconcerting.

I became adept at using my fingers to manipulate my lips to form lip consonants. I found it entertaining, although I rarely got smiles from strangers for my performance. It was especially challenging to simply say my name. Both first and last start with the lips. Mitchell Block!

Something I found enlightening, and disturbing, was how I was treated by others. Wherever I went — the gym, the healthfood store — I would immediately explain what I had and that underneath the dead face was a smile. Without my real smile I rarely (almost never) received a smile in response. Because my facial expression made me look mentally disabled, many people, even those I explained myself to, treated me like a non-person.

Then there were the meals and snacks. Chewing was surprisingly not a problem — my jaw worked perfectly. Getting anything passed the lips, however, and then keeping it inside my mouth? That was a challenge.

For our first dinner, San Geraldo and I decided that rice would be a good idea. I dumped a forkful between finger-parted lips and it tumbled right back out in my lap. San Geraldo let out a guffaw and then looked at me in panic and said, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry." Because I had absolutely no facial expression, he didn't know what my reaction was and thought it would upset me.

I used my fingers to help my lips form the words, "I'm laughing, too," I said, which sounded more like 'Ine yaheen, tuh.' He understood.

One morning, the upper corner of my mouth was twitching. Within an hour I began to notice more muscle control of that area. Then it was under one eye, and soon I was almost able to close it. Every twitch would be announced to San Geraldo. My face returned to a semblance of normal over the course of a few months. I was very lucky.

Any current sag in my face can be attributed to Lyme Disease. Age has nothing to do with it. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

HAPPY AND IN PAIN ON CAPE COD, MASSACHUSETTS.
FELIZ Y CON DOLOR EN CAPE COD, MASSACHUSETTS.
CONNECTICUT RIVER 2 MONTHS LATER, JUDYSHANNONSTREETWHAT IN PINK. AS MUCH AS I COULD OUTWARDLY SMILE.
EL RIO CONNECTICUT 2 MESES DESPUÉS, JUDYSHANNONSTREETWHAT EN ROSA. TANTO QUE PODÍA SONREÍR EXTERIORMENTE.

PARA CONTINUAR LA cuenta (ver el post de ayer) de la Enfermedad de Lyme, he tratado de arreglar las cosas lo más rápido posible (sin exito). Gracias por tu paciencia con la duración de mi cuenta y por mi español. ¡Este fue aún más difícil para mí de lo habitual!

San Geraldo, su madre Alice, y yo habíamos estado en Cape Cod con amigos para escapar un poco cuando empezó mi dolor. El día siguiente fuimos a la urgéncia del hospital en Hyannis, pero fue un accidente de coche fatal y salimos. Por lo tanto, fuimos a casa en Connecticut el día siguiente y vi a mi médico personal que era horrible. 


Después de la visita a mi madre y de aproximadamente una semana y media de dolor y parálisis facial parcial, el otro lado de mi cara cayó. No tenía ningún control muscular en toda mi cara. Mi médico me trató como un hipocondríaco. Encontré a otra doctora que dijo que no sabía mucho sobre la Enfermedad de Lyme, pero llamó al especialista de la Universidad de Yale que dijo que los síntomas la indicaban. Ella me consiguió en esa tarde. Hizo un análisis de sangre precipitado y me dijo que era probable la Enfermedad de Lyme de tipa neurológica y era importante que comience de inmediato los antibióticos. Dijo que si no hubiera una mejora rápida en mis síntomas, tendría que ser admitido en el hospital.

Tuve suerte de que mis dolores de cabeza, cuello, y hombro rápidamente se aliviaron. Mi rostro permaneció completamente paralizado. Había una posibilidad de que nunca se recuperara y me sorprendí aceptando que podría tener que acostumbrarse a vivir de esa manera. Los resultados regresaron rápidamente y de hecho tuve la Enfermedad de Lyme.

Mis ojos no se cerraban, así que tuve que dormir con vendajes para protegerlos de daños. Eso era desconcertante.

Me convertí en experto en usar mis dedos para manipular los labios para formar consanantes labiales. Mi nombre, con M y B, Mitchell Block, era muy difícil. Me pareció entretenido, aunque rara vez sonrisas de extraños para mi rendimiento. 

Algo que encontré esclarecedor, e inquietante, fue cómo me trataron los demás. Dondequiera que yo fuese — el gimnasio, la tienda de alimentos saludables — inmediatamente explicar lo que tenía y que debajo de la cara muerta era una sonrisa. Sin mi sonrisa real raramente (casi nunca) recibí una sonrisa en respuesta. Debido a que mi expresión facial me hizo parecer mentalmente discapacitada, muchas personas, incluso las que me expliqué, me trataron como el que ser inexistente.

Luego estaban las comidas y aperitivos. Masticar fue sorprendentemente no es un problema — mi mandíbula funcionó perfectamente. ¿Conseguir algo pasó los labios, sin embargo, y después guardarlo dentro de mi boca? Eso fue un reto.

Para nuestra primera cena, San Geraldo y yo decidimos que el arroz sería una buena idea. Dejé un tenedor entre los labios entreabiertos y se desplomó en mi regazo. San Geraldo soltó una carcajada y luego me miró en pánico y dijo: "Lo siento. ¡Lo siento!" Porque no tenía ninguna expresión facial, él no sabía cuál era mi reacción y pensó que me trastornaría.

Utilicé mis dedos para ayudar a mis labios a formar las palabras: "Yo también me estoy riendo", dije.

Una mañana, la esquina superior de mi boca estaba temblando. Dentro de una hora comencé a notar más control del músculo de esa área. Entonces estaba bajo un ojo, y pronto pude casi cerrarlo. Cada estremecimiento sería anunciado a San Geraldo. Mi rostro volvió a una apariencia de normal en el transcurso de unos meses. Tuve mucha suerte.

Cualquier sangrado actual en mi rostro puede atribuirse a la Enfermedad de Lyme. La edad no tiene nada que ver. Esa es mi historia, ¡y estoy unido de ella!

22 comments:

  1. Wow I don't know anyone with Lyme disease. I had a friend who had Bells Palsey (SP?) one side of his face and that was scary enough. Thankful you got your smile back!

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    1. Cheapchick:
      It was pretty scary, but once I knew what I had, I somehow took it in stride. Still really grateful for full recovery.

      Delete
  2. Oh Mitchell, what an experience! You should give lectures on the dangers of ticks and Lyme disease. You certainly have made me think about it.
    Thanks for sharing all this.
    So glad you got your handsome smile back!
    Robin

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    1. Robin:
      I was one of the very lucky ones. I've known of people who suffered permanent health problems as a result of Lyme Disease. A neighbor's daughter who was in her late teens when she contracted it, ended up with serious arthritis problems. I happened to catch it early enough and respond to treatment.

      Delete
  3. What an insightful post, nice of you to share it all. Warm greetings and best wishes.

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    1. Blogoratti:
      Thanks. I could have gone on forever. So many events. But this sums it up.

      Delete
  4. cheese louise, Mitchell; glad this story has a happy ending!

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    1. anne marie:
      Otherwise you wouldn't be able to tell I was happy! (Well... or I wouldn't be alive!)

      Delete
  5. Glad you got your smile back. I would have freaked out.

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    1. Wilma:
      I surprised myself when I was going through it. I think you'd probably surprise yourself, too. It certainly cured my vanity... for a while.

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  6. I'm also glad this story had a happy ending. You've had a lot of interesting experiences.

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    1. Stephen:
      Oh, you've had a lot of interesting experiences, too. I just got on a lot longer!

      Delete
  7. The rainbow came out there at the end.
    And I've seen so many saggy faces in and around Smallville, that now I'm worried about Lyme disease, AND old age sag.

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    1. Bob:
      Well, if it weren't for that paralysis, I would look like I was 23... which is amazing considering I contracted Lyme Disease when I was 36.

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  8. You my friend are a survivor!

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    1. Willym:
      I was very lucky. But I think most of us surprise ourselves in these situations.

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  9. Glad you had a complete recovery. Back in the 90s I had 2 doses of an experimental Lyme disease vaccine at UConn Medical Center. I never got the 3rd dose as the vaccine trial was abruptly ended. (https://www.historyofvaccines.org/content/articles/history-lyme-disease-vaccine). Some years and a thousand tick bites later (in Connecticut my dog rarely got ticks - he had tick medicine - but I was a real a tick-magnet) I experienced varied and unexplained aches and pains. I tested positive for Lyme and took a 30 day regimen of antibiotics. I never really knew if the positive test was because of having had the vaccine (which created anti-bodies) or whether I had a mild case because of the vaccine. I still have weird aches and pains that come and go and of course there's the age thing.

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    1. Frank:
      I can't believe we were so near each other at that time. We were working at Yale until '93. I admire you for participating in those vaccine trials. I would guess that could cause a positive result for Lyme. I have to admit I had aches and pains before Lyme and my face wasn't perfect (I know that's hard to believe). Still, it's nice to blame it all on that.

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  10. Holy cow, Mitchell! What a scare! I had no idea that this could be a symptom of Lyme disease. Geeze!! Was it antibiotics that did the trick to fix you up?
    Judy

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    1. Judy:
      Lyme Disease symptoms resembles a myriad of other illnesses, especially illnesses that attack the immune system, which is why it often goes undetected for so long. I was lucky to live so close to the center of research and surrounded by so many people who had experienced the illness. My first doctor, however, insisted that every one of my symptoms was common in his patients with HIV. It didn't matter that I had been tested twice (by him!) and was negative, he still didn't believe it was anything but that. And, of course, the symptoms were common in HIV infection, EVERYTHING was. Anyway, I was so incredibly lucky to recover... except for looking older now!

      Delete

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