Saturday, June 11, 2005

Getting Closer to Normal

I am driving my CRV again. Gingerly, but it's a step in the right direction.

Because of the situation with my left eye, I'm extremely careful. If you're in a rush and get behind me, expect to go the speed limit (frustrating, I know). Take your anti-roadrage pills before getting out there.

But it's wonderful to be free to move about the streets. Walking just doesn't have the same panache.

When I went out for coffee with friends a few days back, I asked the waitress for a straw. Because the drool factor kicks in on the left side of my mouth, a straw makes the act of transferring liquids from cup to lip less likely to slip. Coffee, tea, and a straw...even chicken soup is easier to handle. In my case, it's "Many a sip slips 'twixt the cup and the lip."

The waitress admitted my use of the straw was the first time she'd ever seen it. It makes the act of sippin' a lot easier and a little cleaner, though, so I'll keep right on.

The Breath-Rite strip to open the sinus passage was a first for my doctor, too. The medical community is great at the mechanical repair work, but they don't say much about how a person can deal with the problems of an affliction. I learned more from than I did from the hospital.

Even so, I'm having a huge problem finding a way to protect my left eye and still be able to see. While I was driving the van in the hot weather, I became concerned about keeping the eye moist. I put drops in my eye, but I don't have a way to keep the liquid from evaporating. One doctor gave me a clear plastic cover with foam rubber under it to trap the moisture in the eye--sort of a see-through patch--but it's too small for my eye.

I saw a couple of clear alternatives at the website mentioned above, and stopped in at an optician's to see whether they had anything like that, but no luck. They informed me only an opthalmologist carries such an item, and they didn't have anything like that at the VA. Bummer.

However, a friend stopped over today and commented my left eye is closing better, and my face appears to be beginning to straighten out. I certainly hope she's right.

Friday, June 10, 2005

No Nose is Good Nose

One of the things that happens with Bell's Palsy or Ramsay Hunt is the lack of control over facial muscles. To look at me, it's as if there was a landslide right under my nose. The little line above my upper lip starts the collapse, and it continues down to my chin. This, of course, is caused by the muscles on the left being on vacation.

That results in the sinuses on the left being pulled to the right, so you don't breathe as well through that side. Here's a tip: Use a Breathe-Rite strip on your nose. You've seen them on football players and other athletes. They're a springy material that gives your nose an uplifting experience.

You have to be careful of them, though. Don't peel them off too fast!

When I began trying to use them, I used alcohol to wash the oils off my nose, then soap and water. That was so the adhesive would stick. It didn't work at first: always the right side would pop up. Maybe the right is oilier than the left, eh, George?

Finally I began washing it twice, which worked until the next morning. Yesterday I bought some alcohol, last night used it first twice, then washed with soap and water. As of this morning, it still is holding.

To return to the warning above: If you peel them off too fast, you can take a hunk of skin off with the adhesive. So be careful removing them.

I went grocery shopping yesterday for an hour, and started getting a
little shaky toward the end.

Later, I drove my big old van by myself, only about 6 miles, but it
was in rush hour traffic in 80+ degree weather, and got home safely.
No crushed pedestrians or other autos, and the normal level of anger
and frustration. Ah, the glories of living in the big city. Oh, and
the weather helped me realize that, yes, there is a difference between
saline solution and sweat: Saline doesn't sting!

My left eye is the problem. I keep a patch on it a lot of the time,
because it's out of focus, which makes it hard to read, type, etc.
Plus it is at a constant low level of irritation, or seems to be.

Otherwise, I keep plugging.

My smile is just more lopsided than it was.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

In Your Eye

I went for a walk yesterday, in the 85+ degree weather, then loaded my 6.5 hp lawnmower in my van so my girlfriend could use it. (I didn't know the battery was drained, and she wouldn't be able to get the vehicle started. There's a slow leak somewhere that draws off current.)

That was quite a job, especially with a patch. I didn't realize how heavy a big mower like that was when I bought it, but I've learned over the years. I had to put down a plank, and run it up on the left-hand set of wheels.

Then I started sweating under the patch--and over it--so started getting perspiration in my bad eye. Ouch. As a result, when I put drops in every couple of hours, they must pick up some of the sweat, because that first drop always stings.

Oh, any of my friends who have my old Verizon cel number: I closed that out. It just cost too much, at $50 a month or so. Plus the service was lousy, but I was told that's my fault: I hadn't upgraded the software since I got the phone. As a result, the phone didn't have the cel towers that have been constructed since then. So that's why I'd lose calls.

So, now I have a new number, a Minnesota number this time, rather than Calif. I went with Virgin, which requires you keep at $20 every 3 months, but it adds to whatever you've got left. Why pay contract fees if you don't use it that much?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

At least, having only one fully serviceable eye should make that a lot easier. Of course, not being able to see very well past about 40 feet might make it a little difficult to watch where it's going. No matter: I don't usually hit it very far anyway.

It broke my heart to have this happen in late April. If I'm going to get discommoded, why couldn't it happen in January or February, months that aren't normally conducive to golf in these climes? As it was, I had to turn down two invitations to splendid courses, one the Governor's Open at Madden's Resort in Brainerd, another at the new Giant's Ridge course in Biwabik.

When Jesse Ventura was "The Gov", he referred to the golfing season's introductory media day as "The Jackal Open." There isn't much doubt what he thought about the press. Governor Pawlenty is a little more reserved. He might consider them much the same animal, but keeps his faunic opinions private. Although now that a Minneapolis magazine has splashed his image (computer assisted, of course) wearing only the Presidential seal in a strategic location, he 's liable to start voicing an opinion.

As for me, one of these days I'll get one of my friends to take me over to the driving range to see whether this ailment helps or hinders my golf game.

After all, if I ever shoot my age, I figure that means I'll live to 130.

Monday, June 06, 2005

A Pole Too Far

The Edina, MN, Art Fair seemed like a good venue to walk around and gain stamina, so away we went yesterday. I wore a patch on my left eye, because the wind was blowing dust around and I'm paranoid about getting any grit in that one. It was all right: a lot of the art only deserved one eye, anyway.

I staggered a bit after about an hour, but a minute's rest and I was up and at 'em again. We hung out there for some three hours, and while my friends walked on to look at one last set of booths I leaned against a pole and waited. That was a good idea, but when a lot of people with dogs began walking by I decided to step away from the pole.

When I talked to my mother last night, she said I sounded a lot better. It's funny: when I lean to the left (the paralyzed side), I slur a lot. When I sit up straight or lean to the right, I sound good. I haven't noticed any change in the Bell's Palsy, in terms of getting my face back, but I feel much better.

By the way: The terrible thing about this symptom is that, politically, I usually lean to the left. This particular symptom means I'm going to catch it from my more-conservative friends (Yes, I do have a couple). What can I say? Maybe the Democratic party needs to take lessons from Bells Palsy sufferers on how to enunciate clearly--out of both sides of their mouth.