How Bell’s Palsy Taught a Mom to Accept Herself

Ten days after the birth of her second baby, Pam Moore discovered she was unable to move her face. She was quickly diagnosed with Bell’s palsy. The sudden change shocked her, and drastically affected her self image. Follow her story to recovery below, or here at People.

Moore discovered her face was paralyzed after a happy change in spirit. After nine days of living in pajamas, she finally felt like wearing something different on day ten. She went to the bathroom mirror to apply lip gloss, and found she was unable to press her lips together.

“My face isn’t working,” Moore thought.

It was a sensation as peculiar as it was surprising. Pam Moore was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy. Resulting from damaged nerves, or trauma, Bell’s palsy causes paralysis in the facial muscles. It occurs when the nerves in control of facial muscles become inflamed. The underlying cause of this damage, however, remains unknown. To learn more about Bell’s palsy, click here.

The most common visual symptom of Bell’s palsy is that one half of the face appears to droop. For most people it is temporary.

Moore says she was relieved that she was not being given a diagnosis for a stroke. It also was not a tumor. In short, she was happy to find out that her condition was not debilitating or life threatening.

Moore says she knew she should have been happy, it was only Bell’s palsy affecting her face. Instead she felt upset that her face was “messed up,” and that led to depression when she realized she wasn’t grateful for a relatively benign diagnosis.

Moore suffered facial paralysis on the right side of her face. She was unable to blink properly. She couldn’t press her lips together. Smiling was a challenge. Even pronouncing the letter “P” in her own name became fraught with difficulty.

The new mother says she became especially nervous around her new child, Lucy. She was worried it would have negative effects on the baby’s own functions. Moore was worried the child would “…imitate me and then her smile would become lopsided just like mine.”

After the diagnosis, Moore took vitamin supplements, and went to weekly acupuncture treatments to help alleviate her condition. She stopped smiling. She says she felt ugly.

Bells’ palsy affected Moore physically, but it also affected her self esteem. It made her feel like the world was receiving a vision of her that didn’t match who she truly was or how she truly felt.

In a post on her personal blog, Moore described the feelings of her struggle. She speaks about her battle with depression and Bell’s palsy. In her mind it was all vanity. She laments missing precious moments with her children due to sadness, and obsession.

Six months later, Moore was almost completely better. Then the Bell’s palsy returned.
The facial symptoms went away more quickly this time, but Moore found that the squint in her eyes was even worse. She struggled with the realization that she was concerned with appearances. It was difficult to reconcile her concept of beauty with how she looked and felt. She had always wanted to believe beauty was something internal. Now she felt that foundation shaken.

Nearly three years after her first diagnosis, Pam Moore’s face is 90% back to the way it was before. She continued to seek treatment through acupuncture rather than botox or steroids.

She has now made peace with her condition.

Moore says that throughout the process, she learned who in her life could really make her smile. Her husband and sister were the best at making her laugh even during the worst of her experience. Perhaps more importantly, she’s learned more about who she really is, and where her values truly rest.

Overall, Pam seems grateful for these experiences, and what she has learned. She hopes that her story can help others that are conflicted and affected the way she was. Her advice for people with Bell’s palsy is that they be more forgiving of themselves. She says if you know someone with bell’s palsy you shouldn’t be afraid to ask how they’re feeling.

“We want to know you care,” says Moore.


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