Hells Bell’s

I still have not seen Rogue One.

That’s not really the important part of the story. It’s more the fact that I did not, thankfully, have a stroke this past weekend. Instead, it was just a case of Bell’s Palsy.

Now because my wife and I welcomed our first child into this world over the past winter, we were not available to just sneak on down to the theater to see a movie. So Rogue One, as much as I was dying to see it, would have to wait until it, alas, came to Netflix.

With the kid in the crib, the wife and I started watching. But, wouldn’t you know it, my eye began to bother me. Upon further inspection, my mouth wasn’t quite working all that well either.

Well, shit balls.

I have had Bell’s Palsy before, my freshman year in college. It’s really the best time to get a random affliction that paralyzes half your face.

For those who don’t know, the Mayo Clinic describes it as such: “Bell’s palsy causes sudden weakness in your facial muscles. This makes half of your face appear to droop. Your smile is one-sided, and your eye on that side resists closing.”

I define it as a wholly terrifying moment that forces you to examine very closely how the rest of your body feels. Arms working? Check. Anything tingling? Nope. Still terrified. Check.

When I had it the first time I was 19 years old and living in a dorm in Berkeley. This was particularly problematic as some of those who frequented the room were often high, leading to various remarks such as, “Gabe, dude, your face is freaking me out.”

There is no better way to make someone feel better about their paralysis, temporary or otherwise, than to explain that it is putting you off for the moment.

The best part of that experience is that it also coincided with the very first date I had with my future wife. (Pesky facial paralysis isn’t an entirely horrible wingman, it would seem.) I distinctly recall sitting with one half of my body facing away from her all through dinner. She distinctly remembers that I was winking a lot.

In any case, here I was, back in the same predicament almost 20 years later—perhaps from a shit ton of stress hitting me all at once recently.

With a family now, it was my duty to head off to the ER on a Saturday night to make sure that I wasn’t having a stroke—I’m 37 now and don’t exactly look like George Clooney unless we are talking Syriana Clooney.

Thankfully, there wasn’t an influx of drunks at the ER that night and I was into a room rather quickly. That is where the doctor confirmed that I did indeed have Bell’s Palsy, again.

I would have to wear an eye patchike a fat pirate, again. And I would have to slur my words and dribble liquid down my shirt everytime I had a sip of drink, again.

But I left with a pep in my step that night. It wasn’t a stroke. Just a pesky recurrence of temporary partial facial paralysis.

Maybe one day I’ll finally finish that damn movie.



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