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“Don’t want to alarm you but I can’t move the right hand side of my face” – Mexico pt III

January 19, 2012

Tuesday 17 January


Track: Comfortably Numb, Pink Floyd ft. Van Morrison (from the film The Departed)


I have found it a bit difficult to focus in my right eye today. I keep having to wipe my eye to get some focus back.

Slowly getting through the Eco novel, about 90 pages left. I should rattle those off today. Progress is slower as keep finding that my mind is drifting off onto other subjects and have to re-read the paragraph. This is not a sign of a good book.

Fish on the menu tonight: Tilapia fillets and chips.

I have noticed that the right side of my face is not moving as it should. When I smile only the left side is responding to a full extent and when I blink my right eye is not closing. When I screw up my face the left side is behaving and doing as it should but the right is lagging behind.

This is not the most comforting of developments. Looking in the mirror doesn’t help – it looks more pronounced than it feels even.

My father has just walked into the kitchen, he has been asleep whilst I have been making these discoveries.

Me: Don’t want to alarm you, but I cant move the right hand side of my face.

Father: Do you want to go to the hospital

Me: Not sure – I don’t otherwise feel bad and whilst serious it does seem severe at the moment.

We both hit the internet. I rule out a stroke pretty quickly. My face hasn’t dropped. In actual fact the opposite has occurred; it is not moving much at all. I haven’t lost any sensation in that side and it is localised to the face, no loss of movement anywhere else. No other symptoms – headache or speech defects. We both come back with pretty much the same info which indicates it could be a range of things from Bells Palsy to even possibly some food poisoning from the shellfish the other night. Apparently prawns can hold toxins that are not broken down by heat.

So for now we leave it – it is about 6pm so we will monitor the situation and see what happens. My father is watching me like a hawk and Miros keeps asking me how I am feeling.

I cook. It is yummy.

No further developments and certainly it is not getting any worse. My vision problems appear to be resulting from the fact I can close my eye properly and the fluid it is generating is trying keep the eye wet which is impacting on the vision.

My father is hooked on an auction TV station that sells property that has been reposed by the banks. 3 bedroom houses in Florida go for c. £30,000! It is quote compulsive viewing. But a couple of hours of this and I need to go to bed.

Let’s see what happens in the morning when I imagine a trip to the hospital is inevitable.


Wednesday 18 January – The Hospital


Miros used to work at a hospital in Hermosillo as does one of her sisters (who has reached a fairly senior admin position). She makes a few phone calls and between them they come up with the name of a neurologist who is very good and probably the best person to see.

We all take Derek into school and Miros is in the back of the car making a few phone calls to see if we can appointment with the recommended doctor. He runs a surgery but today it is not until 5pm. We get a phone call back though and it appears he will come in at 1pm specially to see me if we would like. It is 8.45am at the moment so it is quite a wait and my father recommends that we just head for one of the local private hospitals. His reasoning being that there will be specialists there and if we walk into emergency we will get seen very quickly – if they then recommend that we should see this other doctor we could still keep the 1pm appointment. Not knowing what the health service is like in Mexico this seems reasonable advice so we go with that.

The hospital has a fountain outside. This strikes me as good sign.

It is a good job that Miros is with us as she is able to translate. We register and go and sit in the waiting room. It is at this point that regret not grabbing a book on the way out of the house. I have had to visit a few hospitals in the UK at various times and have developed a habit of grabbing reading material before heading off. This tactic has served me very well.

 We have been in the waiting room for no more than five minutes when we are called through (all of us go translation and interpretation are going to be very important I feel). I see a doctor who ask me to do various face exercises nearly all of which I fail. He checks the range and strength of movement in the rest of my body (arms, legs, grip etc) and this all appears to be fine.

I get sent straight through to a cubicle and wired up for various things. Blood pressure is very good, as is my pulse (low even). I get put onto a drip which requires a not small need going into my hand. The nurse drains a couple of samples of blood which gets sent off for analysis – it will be back in just 40mins or so. Everybody is asking how I am feeling – I am not in any kind of pain but they give me some pain relief anyway.

Off to the X-ray for a shot of my chest. I don’t know why this is needed but am going with the flow.

Once the results are back from the bloods I am seeing a neurologist.

Who turns out to be very nice and speaks a bit of English – his English is actually very good. He is just having problems adjusting to the British accent. Apparently American English is easier to understand. Although British is much easier to follow than Australian. This I don’t find surprising.

 Bloods are normal – blood sugar is a few points over the normal but really no way near enough to be warrant doing anything about it. Cholesterol is normal (on the low side even) but Triglycerides are high. This is not related to current problems but will mean a diet change and longer term monitoring. I gather it is fairly unusual for this to be high whilst cholesterol is low. Chest x-ray is normal, good even. I have a good sized heart.

I quite like my x-ray. I think I might get it framed and put on the wall when I get home.

So, with all these things coming back normal I am get to see another specialist to see is an ear infection and resulting pressure on the inner nerve may be to blame. This doctor is also very nice and speaks very good English. Asks all the usual questions – any dizziness (I have had this question at least half a dozen times since I have been in) to which I respond I haven’t nor any headaches or pain. He has a look. Everything is normal. No ear infection. He thinks it may very well be Bells Palsy. Which if that turns out to be true is probably the best result and one that we had identified last night. Nobody knows what the trigger is for the onset of Bells Palsy. 

Back to my original doctor who proceeds to prescribe a number of drugs. One is a drug that is usually used to control epilepsy, but in higher doses. I learn from my father and Miros that they do this quite a bit in Mexico. They are not afraid to use a drug that is primarily for something else in smaller doses if it works on similar things. The lack of movement in my face is primarily a nerve problem, epilepsy is a nerve problem, so lets use less than we would do for epilepsy and see what happens. I think we probably do this in the UK but they are afraid to tell you.

So, I have a cocktail of 6 different pills to take at different timings and quantities during the day. This is a little complex but then gets ever more so as the doses change every three or four days. One of the likely side effects is extreme drowsiness. This holiday is taking a bit of a battering.

The doctor thinks it is highly likely that things will get worse before they start to improve but there is an 85% chance of a full recovery which could be anything between a couple of weeks and 12 months (nice and specific then). There was a brief talk about having to delay my flight home as the pressure in the aircraft may not be good for me but I think now that they have ruled out an ear infection being the root cause this is highly unlikely. Thank god I got travel insurance before I left.

And that is pretty much it for now. If things don’t improve at all or get worse then I should ring him and they will have me in for an MRI but he doesn’t think that will be necessary.

All in the entire visit was done in about four hours. It cost a bit but the treatment and attention has been fantastic. Will just have to wait and see how things play out in the next week or so. This is not exactly what I thought I would be blogging about on holiday but there you go.

At least I have a nice bit of art to put on the wall.





From → On Holiday

One Comment
  1. Keith Horsfall permalink

    Blimey! Not sure what to say except hope all goes ok and you get home ok too. Take care of yourself, enjoy the cooking – but lay off the prawns (by the sound of it). k

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