It’s been over three weeks since I felt unwell and had some days in hospital, the unwellness manifested in slurred speech and paralysed non-cooperation of the right side of my face. Life suddenly turned into a permanent wink as one eye wouldn’t close properly. Suspected Lyme disease they said, with a side order of facial paralysis. They sent me home from the hospital with antibiotics and steroids and a positive sense that all would be just fine. In time.
The funny thing is that as I read up about Lyme disease in the gaps between copious amounts of prescribed TV watching, I began to think I had in fact been fortunate because the facial freeze had lead to early diagnosis of the Lyme disease. I’ve been treated now and feel physically fine again. The face will take time but it’s already getting better beyond what I dared hope for when they said it would probably take 3 to 6 months. I can speak as clearly as I ever did, most of the time anyway, and can even give a decent wry smile.
The whole recovery process has been life affirming – wrapped with love by my nearest and dearest, the messages and calls and flowers from friends and the many offers of help from friends and neighbours. My wonderful niece, Niamh put her life on hold for a week so she could come over from Ireland and help out. Niamh and I always laugh a lot together about the daftest of things, it helped the spirit no end.
I had just two days where I felt down and frustrated. With a debilitating ear ache and the facial palsy showing absolutely no improvement after 10 days, I felt overwhelmingly down. My doctor, a very empathetic Conor McGregor fan from Serbia, told me that frustration and tears were healthy and normal, preferable to pill-popping in self-medication which he reckoned was the only other likely alternative. So I felt better as I sobbed my goodbye and moved on.
In hindsight, I probably wasn’t mentally well enough to deliver my daughter to that birthday party in the kids indoor play jungle that is Leos Lekeland. It was a rainy Sunday and it felt like half the under tens of Oslo were there, along with their parents. You need 2 hours of meditation before going near that place on a good day and this definitely wasn’t one of those. The stunned look on the face of a Mom as she looked at me and then sympathetically asked was I alright, was enough to set me off. The stress tears started to trickle as I swiftly tried to extract myself from the party room. My niece looked on in horror…. oh no, Aunty is having a meltdown. My poor daughter cried in sympathy, threw up her lunch in a nice big bin right next to us and declared she just wanted to go home and chill out. My son looked on in amazement at how quickly we managed to move from normality to chaos. We excused ourselves and left skid marks in our race to get home that day and I decided, in the interest of not making a holy show of myself every time I went outside the door, that I shouldn’t push things.
But within a few days, I had turned a corner and the ready tears were gone. The husband went away on an already postponed business trip, niece Niamh went back to Ireland and the time had came for me to brave the school run. To avert any risk of similar teary chaos, I sent an email to the manager at activity school, telling her what had happened to me and asking that staff didn’t refer to my obvious facial/speech problems if at all possible so that it was as normal as possible for the kids. They were all amazing, greeting us as normal and looking at the wall, the ceiling, their shoes, anywhere but my face. It was almost funny at times but I was very grateful for their considerate avoidance tactics.
It’s good to feel stronger and on the road to recovery; it doesn’t matter anymore when I reach the end of it as long as I’m on the road. And the husband, in all of his wisdom, pointed out that it’s surely a good thing to have a very clear good side now when posing for photographs, all that deliberating and pondering on which side is better is definitely gone. A genius he is when it comes to putting a positive spin on things.