my Bell's Palsy log


I've kept a log of my progress from the first day I had Bell's Palsy (left side of my face). The first day's entry was written on the second day because I didn't know that I had Bell's on the first day. This log was started on Friday, January 23, 2004.  The final entry is at the end of one year: January 22, 2005.

This is a record of my experiences. Your experiences will most likely be different. My recovery has been average to above-average. For what it's worth, I'm getting towards my late 20's, so my age may have something to do with my rate of recovery. I also only got a relatively mild case of Bell's, which also affects the rate of recovery.

I refused the Prednisone (corticosteroid) that I was offered, but did go through physiotherapy. I was not offered antiviral drugs and I did not do acupuncture.

There is hope if you have Bell's. My case is another example that a quick recovery is possible.

day 1

Tingling sensation on the inside of my cheek while I was eating breakfast and lunch. Didn't think too much of it. By evening, my face felt lop-sided and the side not affected by Bell's looked 'swollen' compared to the side with Bell's which wasn't moving much. I noticed that it was getting difficult to speak. I still had limited control of my eye.

day 2

Self-diagnosed Bell's for myself. Verified with family doctor. Full paralysis has not yet occurred, but I am not able to close my eye. My day proceeded relatively normally. I began to use artificial tears (eye drops) in the evening because the tear duct started shutting down.

day 3

Some parts feel better, but Bell's is probably still not fully onset. Getting more difficult to talk: forced enunciations necessary. Involuntary twitching on eyebrow. Some parts getting worse toward the evening.

day 4

Probably improved a little bit today. Involuntary twitching on both eyebrows and upper and then lower lips toward the late afternoon. Reduced need for eye drops. Initial physiotherapy session today.

day 5

Morning: more lower lip involuntary twitching as well as lower cheek/jaw involuntary twitching. Reduced need for tear drops. Night: can just barely control when lower eyelid twitching occurs, lots of lip involuntary twitching. Upper eyelid has folded over itself.

day 6

Forehead, chin, lip, jaw involuntary twitching, but frequency decreased from yesterday. Can now control small movements on cheek.

day 7

Almost voluntary twitching on lower cheek/upper jaw muscles. Pronounced involuntary lower eyelid twitching. Chin, lips might be starting to regain control. Approaching normal tearing levels, probably won't need eye drops today. May possibly be developing minor synkinesis between side of mouth and outer edge of eyebrow (but it's really too early to tell). Began to do finger-assisted facial movements to promote proper synchronization.

day 8

Cheek muscle soreness/tightness. Possible synkinesis between the outer eyebrow and the side of the mouth. Controlled twitching of lower eyelid, upper eyelid has begun to unfold itself. Continued control of cheek muscles, but sporadic control. Also, not as much movement as last night, but attributable to muscle soreness. Should be no more need for eye drops, upper eyelid is more functional. More control over cheek, lips, as evidenced by my having less trouble eating on affected side. Second physiotherapy session today.

day 9

Voluntary control over all facial muscle groups. Loud noises still sound quite loud, but much better than last week. Experiencing pain in side of tongue when I eat anything with a strong taste. Tongue is coming back?

day 10

Furrows on forehead more clearly defined (25%?); upper lip can partly open; eye can almost independently close. Tongue doesn't hurt as much now.

day 11

Can independently close eye with a lot of effort. Forehead regaining wrinkles. Can whistle better, lips getting better, but still very noticeably lop-sided. Somewhat troubling is that my eyelid is starting to fold up on itself again. Getting slight problems with tearing: eye getting dry; had to use eye drops once.

day 12

Easier to close eye independently, but still can't hold it closed for extended periods. Furrows on forehead more defined than yesterday (50%?). Lips can open up more. Frowning at about 80%. Eyelid is folded up on itself again. Tongue doesn't hurt anymore

day 13

Can hold eye shut independently for longer periods. Furrows on brow more pronounced at about (70%). Can almost form 'O' with lips. Eyelid may be starting to unfold.

day 14

This is the last day of the second week. Furrows on forehead are almost symmetrical now, but there is still a slight tilt overall. 'O' of mouth also getting more symmetrical. There is still a general weakness in the lower jaw, and in the area around the mouth. Overall improvement, but it's getting more difficult to tell where the improvements are taking place specifically.

day 15

Noticeable improvements, but getting more difficult to localize. Need to work on overall muscle strength because I still can't hold facial expressions for long.

day 16

Forehead continuing to approach symmetry. Side of eyes beginning to crinkle, eyelid noticeably unfolding. Starting to regain ability to hold water in mouth (a few seconds only).

day 17

Eyelid was unfolded in the morning before folding up again. Forehead looks normal now. Whistling approaching symmetry. Easier to hold water in mouth.

day 18

Noticeable, but small improvement in range of movement. Still can't hold facial expressions for long before getting tired.

day 19

It seems that all the muscle groups that I don't have independent control of, are synchronized now (forehead, nose), but the chin is still weak. I need to continue to work on fine motor control especially in the cheek. The muscles around the mouth are still noticeably weaker.

day 20

Can evenly raise upper lip. Lower lip still uneven. Seems easier to do fine movement, but difficult to quantize.

day 21

Last day of the third week. Ear muscles probably fully functional: noticed that water in the shower sounds the same in both ears.

day 22

Fine motor control improving, but still quite unstable. Can hold small movements for a few seconds, but still difficult to do small (as opposed to large) movements, in the first place.

day 23

Lower lip getting better in range of movement, but still weak. About 80% symmetry.

day 24

Can hold small movements for longer periods with less trembling. Lips sometimes tingling, but not sure why.

day 25

Lower lip symmetry at 90% in some positions. Small movements are almost stable (for a very short time) after the muscles have been inactive for a while.

day 26

Trembling amplitude seems to have gone down.

day 27

Small improvements.

day 28

Can hold positions for longer with less trembling.

day 29

Unconscious movements seem to be smoother now. Still a bit of tingling on forehead and lips.

day 30

Minimal changes.

day 31

Trembling amplitude has definitely gone down - even when I try holding muscles in position.

day 32

Learning to suppress the trembling response. I think I may have greater control (as in range of muscles) on the affected side rather than the good side.

day 33

Small improvements.

day 34

Small improvements. Minimal trembling for the first few seconds.

day 35

Small movements without any trembling for a few seconds.

day 36

Trembling amplitude goes down slightly if I hold a muscle in position for more than about 20 seconds. Perhaps the weaker nerve/muscle connections are tiring out more quickly.

day 37

No changes?

day 38

Getting better. It seems strange how the days after the days without change (or with small changes) show bigger improvements.

day 39

Maximum tremor amplitude is definitely lower.

day 40

Lower eyelid twitching in response to chin movement seems to be going away. General improvements.

day 41

Can hold positions with minimal trembling for longer.

day 42


day 43

No changes?

day 44

Uncontrolled muscle tensing happens after periods of activity.

day 45

Better, I think.

day 46

No changes?

day 47

I'm sure I've gotten better, but I can't tell day by day very much anymore.

day 48


day 49

It's getting quite difficult to report day by day changes anymore, but daily changes are still noticeable in many cases. Results are also different depending on the time of day. I will not be updating this log regularly anymore.

Samson - March 11, 2004

March 25, 2004 (day 63)

Still getting better.

April 8, 2004 (day 77)

11 weeks! Sometimes it's as if the trembling isn't there anymore. Definitely an improvement over week 7.

April 29, 2004 (day 98)

Week 14. Definite improvements over week 11. However, I seem to have developed a synkinesis between yawning and closing my left eye. Not really a problem, but it is an interesting reaction. I don't know how permanent that will be, but I will try to wean myself off.

May 13, 2004 (day 112)

Week 16. I'm still getting better even though the improvements are very subtle now. I'm working on even finer motor control for extended periods of time. Am more susceptible to twitching in the area under the lower eyelid when I am tired. Yawning-eye closing synkinesis has lessened somewhat, but it takes a conscious effort to avoid the effect.

May 27, 2004 (day 126)

Week 18. It shouldn't be noticeable to a casual observer that anything is wrong. Still get twitching in the lower eyelid area, but it doesn't bother me too much anymore. It is getting more difficult to induce residual effects,

June 17, 2004 (day 147)

Week 21. Residual effects. Possibly permanent, but not much different from what the other side of my face can do.

July 8, 2004 (day 168)

Week 24. I'm surprised that things are still getting better.

Jan 12, 2005 (day 355)

10 days before one year. There are still lingering effects that are pronounced when I'm really tired - but only if I'm really tired. A slight asymmetry is normal now when I stretch my facial muscles, but I don't notice it anymore. I can live with that.

Jan 22, 2005 (day 365)

One year after the beginning of Bell's Palsy. Time went by quickly. I've had twisted ankles with residual effects that have lasted as long.

-- end of log --