It's just my face

Welcome to this week's Reno News & Review.

Well, hell. Why do I always get to be the guy with the weird medical crap?

Lounging around the house Sunday, I noticed my left eye was dry—not that unusual, particularly during wildfire season. As I added Systane, my favorite artificial tears, I noticed some things weren't working right. My eyebrow wouldn't arch. I couldn't close my left eye without closing my right.

Thinking in the back of my mind that these seemed very much like stroke symptoms, I raised my arms and stuck out my tongue straight and to the sides, because I've read that these are ways to determine if someone is having a stroke. Since I had a photograph to take, I blithely hopped in the car, and went to take the photo. During the small talk preceding pushing the button, I mentioned my peculiar issue. It made for a few pictures in which the subject had a concerned look on his face.

“You've got to get to the hospital now,” he said. “If you've got brain trauma, your brain is not working right, and you should not be making health decisions.”

That seemed logical. He followed me back to my home where my girlfriend was kind enough to take me to Saint Mary's emergency room. Let me tell you, when you say, “I've either had or am having a stroke,” you don't have to wait in line. Faster service than McDonald's.

Turns out I've been stricken with a not-all-that-rare disorder called Bell's Palsy. It's a virus that infects a nerve on the face, sort of like chicken pox or herpes. So the left side of my face is paralyzed. There's a good prognosis. Most research says 85 percent of people have full recovery without treatment in three weeks to six months.

Sucks. Most people can't tell just by looking, but the left side of my mouth is turned down, I can't smile with the left side of my mouth or left eye. I have sort of a constant sneer but since my right eyebrow is expressive, an interested look. Sort of like Spock but pissed off.

But if I run across you on the street or at school, please understand that I'm not actually angry with you. It's just my face.