Facial Paralysis: Anthony's Story

Author: Johns Hopkins Medicine

I had terrible headaches for about three weeks. I was diagnosed in April with a four centimeter Acoustic neuroma brain tumor. And then I had surgery to remove the tumor and it was wrapped around my facial nerve.

He was told that the neck was gonna recover. And he woke up from the surgery with a full paralysis, which is not too unusual. And most of the time, you just watch and it recovers.

Unfortunately for him, it had been over a year and there was no recovery. It's a real struggle to talk, to eat. I drool, I spill stuff out of my mouth and my eye is really bad. I'm always, constantly, touching my eye.

It's one of the most challenging things, having facial paralysis. In general, facial paralysis can make a big difference in people's life. The things we see is just the surface, but emotionally they don't want to socialize.

Facial Paralysis: Anthony's Story

They don't want to go out to eat. They feel like people are staring at them, even when we are not staring at them. I wanna be able to communicate. I wanna talk, I wanna feel.

I don't, like my face doesn't feel normal. Not so much everybody looking at me, but it's very uncomfortable. I feel right now, today, I feel worse than when I had the brain tumor. I don't wanna go on like this. There's gotta be something that I can do to make it better.

Show how you fix my smile every night, show them. He told me stories about his daughter asking him when he was gonna smile again. And so, I was obviously very touched by that story. He looked at my personal needs and he knew how important it was to me, and I felt that he genuinely cared about me. I actually really encouraged him, and I could see him try to smile when I told him that we had good options for him. My expectations, I hope that my face is straight, so I could talk normal and help me in my everyday activities and my communications. And my eye, just being able to blink my eye when I'm driving without doing it with my hand.

Okay. You'll see right away, you'll be able to close your eye. Okay.

There may be a little bit of a gap- Okay. But much better. But if you look at the face as a whole, the left side talks to the right side, and the right side talks to the left side. We smile with our eyes, we talk with our eyes, we blink and protect our eyes. We eat, we have to control our lips.

When your face is paralyzed, all those things get affected. And we wanted to make sure that he could blink again, spread tears over his eyes and keep it moist, so it doesn't dry and cause eye problems. The second thing was, I wanted him to breathe very well through his nose. And for him, he was focused on being able to smile. We want to make sure he can smile. Fortunately for him, all the muscles that move the face were still alive. They hadn't been out of commission for too long.

So, all I needed to do was to find a way to get a nerve to talk to those muscles again. With the nerve transfer that Doctor Boahene did, I bite to make it smile and make it move. So, the intention is with therapy, that the brain will retrain my facial nerve on the affected side to act the same as the good side. So, I can blink normally and function without having dry eye all the time, and I'll smile without biting.

Where I hope to be in a year or two is I could smile without biting. That's the ultimate goal. But where I am right now, today, even with biting and smiling is 100 times better than where I was without biting. So in spite of all that he's gone through, he's kept a positive attitude. So that kinda is infectious, you see him, you want to help him.

With the distorted smile he has, you can already tell that there's a smile waiting to come out. Doctor Boahene just gave me, I guess the drive that you're gonna get better, don't give up.

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