April 2018

Friday, April 2, 2010

DAR #22: On my nerves

DAR #22: Today: a lesson on the brain. You may remember that just after surgery the right side of my face was paralyzed. It's about 75% back now. The reason it was paralyzed and then came back was that my 7th nerve was damaged during surgery, but because it was not destroyed at the root, it was able to heal over time. What a piece of work is man...and woman, too.

If you wnat to see a two-minute video of the kind of surgery I had, go to (Yes, utube.) The surgery is actually quite a few hours, but this is condensed. It is a real surgery, so if that sort of thing grosses you out or makes you faint, skip it.

As I remember, there are 12 cranial nerves (nerves that control the muscles above my neck, so that I could do things like move my eyes and wiggle my ears and flare my nose, breathe, swallow, roll my tongue like a hot dog roll, etc.) Four of my nerves were damaged during surgery. The right side of my face was paralyzed; my eyes would not move side to side or (less drastically) up and down or diagonally; I could not move my lips on the right side. I still cannot whistle or roll my tongue like a hot dog roll or drink through a straw (I prefer my milkshakes too thick for straws anyway and who drinks a beer through a straw?)
Right after surgery, I had a lot of trouble eating and drinking like a grown up. Ann and I went to an outdoor concert (Indigo Girls: just to be clear that we do fit the stereotype in so many ways) with our friends Pam and Kari. There was a light shower, so I wore my raincoat. I had a sip of water and the water dribbled out the side of my mouth onto my jacket. Pea said, "Drinking problem?" and Ann said, "At least you dressed for the occasion." I still have a little trouble but not as much. Just so you know, if we eat together I'm likely to drop a little food from my mouth. Pretend you don't see it or say something funny.

As the nerves begin to regenerate, muscles twitch. This is a weird sensation. As my 7th nerve began to heal, my face would just start moving up and down. It didn't care where I was or with whom I might be speaking. This still happens when I get tired, but so far no student has made a crack about it. At least not that I could hear. Sometimes the saliva gland on the right side went bonkers, and it felt like a hydrant in my mouth had opened. I thought I might drown. My ears would knock from time to time. This was because my uvula (at the back of my throat) would start to twitch and the uvula's connected to the hammer in the eardrum, so my uvula would pull my hammer and start up a beat from the 70s. Irritating. My right eye still doesn't water too much, so when I cry (see entry from last week) only one side of my face gets wet.

Right after surgery the ring finger on my left hand would twitch. I asked the rehab doctor why. "It has something to do with your brain," she explained.

Got it. Everything does. mary


  1. can wiggle your ears?

  2. Mary, did you lose track of your DAR or was that just an April Fool's joke that you decided to continue for an extra day?


  3. "nary a morsel fell from her lips"


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