Monday, May 27, 2024

‘It happens to real people like me’: Montgomery Co. Health Officer on her experience with Bell’s palsy – WTOP News

Must read

Montgomery County’s Health Officer Dr. Kisha Davis speaks on her experience after realizing she had Bell’s palsy.

The news that NBA All-Star Joel Embiid was experiencing Bell’s palsy triggered a response from Montgomery County’s Health Officer Dr. Kisha Davis.

In a post on X, Davis wrote: “#BellsPalsy doesn’t just happen to NBA stars like @JoelEmbiid it happens to real people like me.”

She wrote about her own experience for the American Academy of Family Physicians, where she serves as a board member.

Davis told WTOP her experience with Bell’s palsy happened eight years ago, while she was pregnant.

She remembers waking up and having difficulty brushing her teeth, and poking herself in the eye by accident, a result of not being able to close her eye, a common symptom. Then, Davis said, “It took a little bit for me to look at myself and I realize that my face was crooked.” And then, “I panicked a little bit.”

But, Davis said, she remembered her medical training, and realized it was likely Bell’s palsy.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine’s website, Bell’s palsy is “an unexplained episode of facial weakness or paralysis.” The onset is typically sudden, and recovery usually begins between two weeks and six months after the symptoms first appear.

David said the “most common time for women to get it is during pregnancy.” But, “Bell’s doesn’t have a predominance — it’s pretty equal male/female and there’s no racial predominance either. It is an equal opportunity attack,” she said with a laugh.

She experienced a range of other symptoms — her facial muscles drooped, she was unable to close one eye for months, and used a weight taped to her eyelid to be able to close it. Her hearing in one ear was affected, she became more sensitive to noise, and “I also lost taste on one side of my tongue,” she said.

Davis recalls how the impact affected her as a new mother: “Wanting to express happiness and joy and feeling like my face wasn’t expressing happiness and joy.”

Even now, she said, “I still don’t have a full smile, I can see that it looks like a smirk, my face gets tired, my taste isn’t all the way back.”

She said things still taste a bit tinny on that side of her tongue.

For anyone who experiences the onset of what looks like Bell’s palsy, Davis recommends consulting a doctor. The initial symptoms can appear similar to those experienced by patients having a stroke. And Davis notes, “the sooner that you start medications for treatment, it does help with symptoms.”

But Davis, who is used to being in the role of advising other people regarding health, said the experience was very much a wake-up call for her.

“I took stock of some of the stressors in my life and cut back on some of those. … [It is my] forever stress meter. When I am tired, when I am dehydrated, when I haven’t taken good care of myself, my face will tell me,” she said.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Latest article