LOCASH Singer Shares Bell’s Palsy Diagnosis

Together, Chris Lucas and Preston Brust make up LOCASH (also written as LoCash), an American country music duo. While the pair puts out some absolutely amazing songs (trust me), Preston has also recently begun sharing another important topic of conversation: his Bell’s palsy diagnosis.

What is Bell’s Palsy?

Bell’s palsy is a non-progressive neurological disorder affecting the 7th cranial facial nerve. Caused by nerve compression or decreased blood supply, Bell’s palsy causes sudden-onset facial paralysis. Doctors are not exactly sure what causes the loss of blood supply. However, some hypothesize that herpes simplex, sarcoidosis, HIV, herpes zoster, or the Epstein-Barr virus could play a role. Others believe that genetic predisposition and a family history increase the risk.

Bell’s palsy is a variable condition. For some, facial paralysis may affect the entire face while for others, the paralysis may affect only part of the face. Additional symptoms and characteristics can (but do not always) include:

  • Neck stiffness
  • Low-grade fever
  • Increased sensitivity to sound
  • Loss of taste
  • Lack of corneal reflex
  • Pain behind the ear on the affected side of the face
  • Facial weakness or stiffness
  • Decreased saliva or tear production
  • Drooling
  • Voluntary muscle movements followed by involuntary muscle contractions

Preston’s Story

In 2009, Preston was brushing his teeth when he noticed something concerning. The right side of his face didn’t seem to be working; toothpaste was just running out of his mouth. At first, he feared that he was having a stroke. But after visiting the hospital, he received his diagnosis: Bell’s palsy. 

At first, he felt confused and scared. He had never heard of Bell’s palsy before. What did this mean for his life? His family? His burgeoning music career? Preston was told that the facial paralysis should stop within 1.5-3 months. While on tour, he tried his best to hide his condition behind sunglasses and microphones. Though he eventually recovered in around seven months, regaining just 70% of his facial function, the psychological stress persisted. 

Bell’s palsy only recurs in about 10% of cases. So wouldn’t you guess that Preston is within that 10%? Although he experienced no symptoms or other issues over 12 years, Preston found himself with right-side facial paralysis in December 2021. His initial reaction was to feel defeated. He found comfort in his wife and kids, and in Chris, although he wasn’t quite sure how to talk about it.

That is – until Justin Bieber began sharing his own diagnosis of Ramsay Hunt syndrome. Preston realized not only how supportive the community could be, but how powerful it can be to share one’s story. So he decided to speak up about his Bell’s palsy experience, his symptoms, and his recovery. He is still dealing with some facial paralysis and symptoms even eight months later, but this time, Preston knows that there is a way forward.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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