Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Monday, April 23, 2007

Birding with Bell's Palsy

Even though I like to think I'm no longer vain about my appearance, I'm not emotionally prepared to post photos of myself with Bell's palsy. It's interesting karma that I'd develop a Dick Cheney sneer when I'm trying to smile--I've said enough nasty things about him over the years that it's funny that my mouth suddenly looks like his. Funny, but singularly non-photogenic.

I still can't whistle, which has been very frustrating--I didn't realize how very much I use whistling to call Photon and communicate with my neighborhood birds. My left eye can't blink easily, and doesn't close quite all the way so needs to be taped down when I'm sleeping, and my vision is starting to be rather blurry--not a pleasant development during spring migration, but when WOULD blurry vision be a pleasant development?

We humans use our faces for a lot of communication. Once when I was a licensed rehabber I cared for an Evening Grosbeak who had head injuries from hitting a window. Apparently she suffered some nerve damage to the skin muscles on half her head. Songbirds don't use facial expression for communication, but they do raise and lower their facial feathers in part for the same purpose. This poor bird's feathers were loose and raised on one side, and she couldn't control them. Blue Jays and some other crested birds raise and lower their crests to show how territorial or non-aggressive they are. Watch a flock of jays at a feeder or bird bath--their crests will all be plastered down unless a stranger or potential predator shows up. Once I was speaking in Wisconsin with my education Blue Jay Sneakers when another speaker showed up with an education Great Horned Owl. Sneakers took one look at it and up her crest went! But I went on speaking, and when she looked at me, down it went again. She glanced at the owl again, and up the crest went! Back to me, and down went the crest. Up-down-up-down-up-down! It was one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

So avian or human, we're supposed to have body language to show others what's going on inside our heads. But with this silly Bell's palsy, I'm not doing that so well right now. My case is milder than many--my face isn't drooping for one thing--so I haven't freaked out anyone so far, despite the disconcerting Dick Cheney smile. Whatever else my expression may say to you, just remember I promise not to shoot you in the face.


  1. You seem to be handling all this with such grace. I'm impressed. Vain or not, having something about our appearance change is disconcerting -- particularly when it puts us in the same category with Dick Cheney for WHATEVER reason [shudder]. Hang in there -- this too shall pass! :)

  2. Dear Laura,
    Recently I just know the word Bell Palsy.
    When I was a child, My Grand Father was curing many people with such symptom as Bell Palsy which we call it "PETOT " face , in Javanese. Mean is Unsymetric face.

    The treatment is using Herb ( Herb's MUD) , there are no Operation , No, eat the medicine , NO MAGIC. Just grab & and gentle squeeze the mud for 60 to 90 minute with straight arm.& only 3 to 5 times(days). You can do it by yourself at home. For a light case usually it will be cured during 1 to 2 month.

    The reason I write this blog is because publish thi old & traditional remedy to the world , so people with this symptom can have a better living.

    Also my computer skill and english is very low, this is the first blog i found. I hope this is the start.

    My email is
    brian chen

  3. Hi Laura

    I listened to "For the Birds" this morning and was surprised to hear about your Bell's. I see that it was a couple of weeks ago, and I hope the effects are receding! I am one of the lucky few who has had it 4 times - and yes, the first time I had it I thought I had had a stroke as well. The last time I had it, a couple of years ago, I wasn't as careful as I should have been with my dry eye, that I got two painful ulcers - so follow all directions!

    Also, though the effects seem like they take forever to go away, they do, eventually!

    Luckily, most people only have one bout and then never again!

    Good luck !


    The sneer and then the smirk,
    Then fear--or if that work
    Not well to counter reason
    Alleging then a treason.

    The modus operandi
    Is simple, goes like brandy,
    But I am sipping wine:
    To me it is not fine.

    The smirk and then the sneer,
    Some promised perk, then fear,
    Fear more than all can goad us,
    Prod us, and so their modus

    Continues as effective:
    Each person so protective
    Of his small sphere, forgets
    The world, and so he lets.

  5. Hello, I'm starting an info hub about Bells Palsy on blogger and would like to link to your blog. Is this okay with you?

    Sarah Pabody

  6. I hope you've already recovered from Bell's palsy. If not, I have something that may help. I created a natural Bell's palsy treatment called Vedic Relief that has been working for some people. Stop by my site and fill out a contact form... let me know you're from "Suture for a Living" and I'll send you out a free bottle (i mean 100% free, no S&H, nothing). All I ask in return is that you update me in 30 days and let me know how the product worked for you.

    Good Luck & God Bless