Friday, February 18, 2011

A Lovely Sight

I'm still deep in the throes of self-absorption. There's a lot that I want to thrash out, but I'll have to do it a little at a time.

By the time I got my CT scan results and blood work and the doctor had given me the OK to go back to work, I had only missed one day (Tuesday). I was so emotionally exhausted I wasn't sure I was ready to go back, but I felt guilty because no one was really available to teach my swim lessons. Wednesday I was scheduled for lifeguarding from 12 to 3 at the therapy pool and then lessons from 3 to 6:30. My daughter said that you couldn't really tell by looking at me that anything was wrong. So I tried it.


I guess you can't tell when my face is at repose, but customarily when the patrons come in, I smile at them and wish them a good day. My attempt not to move my mouth too much made everyone come over and ask how I was. This annoyed me because I did not want to have to explain what had happened. Then after I'd been guarding about an hour my eye got tired. My eye does not blink involuntarily now. I can close it, but it takes concentration, and having to do it many times a minute is more exhausting than you can imagine. I now had to close it with a fingertip, and more people were asking what was wrong.

When lessons started, I had to explain to the parents at the beginning of each half-hour that I had Bell's palsy, that I was cleared for teaching, their children would be safe, and that I might just look a little strange and my speech was a bit blurred. I had to do this in an upbeat tone and make sure not to break down in tears. It was one of the hardest things I've done in recent memory. During the lessons I did fine, even forgetting myself, but I didn't feel comfortable demonstrating, because when I went underwater my eye didn't close, and the corner of my mouth stayed open, allowing water to get in. Then when I surfaced, I had to let it kind of dribble out. Unobtrusively. Very embarrassing. I love the fact that 3 and 4 year olds can roll with things.

When I got home, I was too tired to take a shower, my chlorinated hair just dried on my head. I needed a way to keep my eye shut, so I put a wad of tissue on it, secured with a headband around my head pirate-style. I looked at myself in the mirror and I noticed how old I was getting, and then I contemplated how much I would like to die before I get to be incapacitated or a burden to anyone else. And that I really wouldn't mind passing on right about now. I've done pretty much all I probably will do in this life and my kids can all take care of themselves. At this point I realized I needed to go to bed.

Before I did, though, I took a picture of myself which I am posting here as kind of a therapy/self-flagellation. I  am very vain, you see, about pictures that I put up of myself on the internet. I try not to display my saggy chin or my undereye bags or my wrinkles.  But here they all are, plus my paralyzed right side. Maybe if I just put the worst on out there, I won't have too much trouble getting out in public and trying to accept what has happened and what I now look like:

2 comments:

Aaron Shafovaloff said...

Sorry, Cheryl. Grieving with you.

Genevieve Larsen said...

but your face looks so skinny!