Facial Palsy and what it is like to live with facial paralysis
 

Problems faced by those with Facial Palsy

Facial Palsy at the Seaside

All kids love the seaside, that's a fact. It's not much fun being on a sandy beach for those who are scared of getting sand in their eyes though. My mother always insisted that I wore sunglasses to try and protect my eyes from any sand flying about. Being the youngest and having siblings old enough to know they should be careful around me, my seaside holidays were all fairly happy ones. My parents always used a windbreak to give me some protection and we always kept well away from people playing ball games where there was likely to be a lot of sand kicked up. Having Facial Palsy did not prove too much of a problem thanks to my parents being reasonably protective and knowing which situations were best avoided. I did get sand thrown in my eyes a fair few times as a child and I do remember it, it happened more often than not at the local play area when my parents weren't around to protect me.

Strangely it is as an adult that I am struggling more with my facial paralysis. Now I have a family of my own, four children in total, and the two youngest are enthusiastic sand castle builders, whereas the older boys are more into kicking a football around. I still wear sunglasses to protect my eyes, my left eye just doesn't close quickly enough if sand is thrown towards it. I find myself getting very uptight around the children when they are playing in the sand, they flick it up with their spades so easily and I feel constantly threatened. Then there are the ignorant people who let their dogs run around in the height of summer off the leash. The last thing I want is someone else's dog bounding around creating lots of sand dust.

Smoking & Dry Eye problems

If you have a child with Facial Palsy and you smoke, then give up! For me the first sign that someone is a smoker or if there is someone smoking in a room, is that my left eye starts to prick. I don't get enough moisture into that eye to cope with cigarette smoke. My right eye handles cigarette smoke no problem at all, but my left eye reacts badly.

What does smoking do to someone who has dry eye problems? Well, it leaves them with a red and sore eye. You want to blink your bad eye more to ease the soreness and then the fact that you are different becomes more obvious to the people around you because your paralysed eye doesn't completely close. It's awful getting dressed up to go out for the night and finding that one eye starts to go red as soon as you enter a smokey atmosphere. Smoking is a curse inflicted on everyone around you. How about if magically I could go into a nightclub and inflict Facial Palsy on everyone in the room just for the night, how would smokers like that?

update to above @ 2008: thank goodness smoking has now been banned in public places, if only they had done it years earlier! It's not just people with facial palsy who suffered, think about the asthma sufferers or people with similar respiratory problems!

Facial Palsy & Central Heating

Central Heating poses another problem for those who suffer with dry eye problems. For those who suffer with dry eyes I would always recommend individual radiator thermostats and then turn the radiator right down or even off in the bedroom. If you wake up to a baking hot radiator then you are guaranteed to suffer with a sore eye for the rest of the day because the central heating will have taken all the moisture out of the paralysed eye, ouch!

Facial Palsy & Hayfever

This advice applies to hayfever sufferers generally anyway, but I will give it a mention for the benefit of Facial Palsy sufferers. If in early Spring you find you wake with a sore eye more often than not, then try keeping your bedroom window closed at night. Maybe you don't suffer from full-blown hayfever but if the paralysed eye starts to feel more sore as the weather begins to warm up, then hayfever could have something to do with it. I don't suffer badly with hayfever but my bad eye certainly suffers more than the good one when the pollen count increases.

Facial Palsy & Travelling in the Car

If your child has Facial Palsy and cannot close one eye fully then please bear in mind that car blowers shouldn't be directly pointed at them because dust can be blown in the paralysed eye and also the air will dry the eye out and cause discomfort. It is much better to open a window so that air goes across the top of the child's head rather than having cold air blowing straight into the face.

Sometimes I think Facial Palsy is an invisible disability. Obviously people can "see" the cosmetic problems caused by Facial Paralysis, but they seem oblivious to the physical discomfort sufferers deal with on a daily basis.

Eyesight

Many people with facial palsy report sight and hearing problems.  My sight is actually very good but because the blinking process is part of what makes you have clear eye sight, my left eye doesn't always see so well.  Apparently the surface of the eye is uneven and the moisture in the eye smooths over the uneven surface and helps you to see, so if the eye is getting dry from lack of blinking then your sight will suffer.