What I Learned from Bells Palsy.

Two years ago today, I was out of state on a 6 week work assignment.  I woke up in my hotel room to find the right side of my face paralyzed:  no sensation, my eye did not blink and that side of my face did not move.

While not permanent and certainly not the worst diagnosis one could receive – it scared me.  How does a healthy person (or so I thought)  just “wake up” on a Sunday morning to a half-paralyzyed face?  Kind of incredible when you think of it.  This health challenge put me on a path of learning that I could never have imagined and one I am so grateful for. The knowledge I have gained about myself, my health, the human body, medicine (eastern, western and functional) is truly invaluable and one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.

I was 40 at the time and had completely changed my diet a few years prior. I abandoned the SAD (standard american diet) for a whole food, plant based diet and traded in my Diet Mtn Dews for green juices. Ironically and thankfully,  I did so, in part, because I didn’t want to “wait for an illness” to make necessary changes. I have always been active and exercised.

Given that, I was completely shocked, wondering how on earth this could happen: who  eats healthier than I do? And what in the heck is  Bells Palsy anyway?  And how is my face going to get back to normal?  <big lesson in humility forthcoming>.


Sometimes health adversity and challenges turn out to be the greatest good in our life.


I saw many doctors.  Got alot of prescriptions and not alot of answers.  They all treated my symptoms and did not address the cause.  In my journey, here are a few things  I learned.

1) Take Responsibility for Your Own Health.   It is our responsibility as a patient to do our due diligence not only on who we are seeing for treatment, but to educate ourselves on the different methods of treatment, regardless of which one we end up choosing. Ask questions. What treatments have worked for others?  What is the common denominator of those that have healed themselves of this condition? Just because someone in a white lab coat with a medical school degree dispenses advice, does not mean it is what is best for you or is it your only option.  Health is too important to be passive….be proactive.  For me, if the only tools in a doctor’s tool box are a prescription pad and a pen, then I move on.


“Nutrition, exercise and stress management can no longer be considered alternative medicine. They are essential medicine.”  -Mark Hyman, M.D.


2)  Your Body is not your Enemy.  Stop asking “why is my body doing this to me?” or “why is this happening to me?” the better question is “what am I to learn from this experience?  “what can this teach me about myself?”  Our bodies are always talking to us, if we only stop and take the time to listen. The worst thing we can do is get angry at our body.  Our body knows how to heal itself, if we give it the proper tools in a good environment, then its work is easy. If we give it garbage (junk food, toxic thoughts) be a couch potato and skimp on sleep, then the cells are working at a disadvantage and in a disagreeable atmosphere.


There are no incurable diseases.  Only incurable people.


3) Live and Love Consciously.  Too often we are prisoners of our thoughts and “old tapes” we play in our heads.  Are these tapes negative?  Do they “build you up” or do they “beat you up”? Living in the mind makes us a slave to those negative tapes.  That is unconscious living. When we get outside our mind, we can change our behaviors by changing our thoughts. Good health also comes from love and appreciation of yourself.  As Dr. Bernard Siegal says, “Love heals.  Love is the most powerful known stimulant of the immune system.”

“Love Is All You Need”  by Sofia Papagni

4) Good Health is not just about Eating Well.  Bells palsy was both a wake-up call and an opportunity to really examine my own thoughts and beliefs; my own “internal tapes”.  To see what beliefs did not serve me well and change them.  When we stuff things down inside of ourselves, it is going to manifest itself at some point, somewhere. And when people make real internal changes, often the new person does not need the old dis-ease.  The thoughts we think create our beliefs, emotions and ultimately our life experiences.  Why would we not want them all to be good?


“Keep my word positive.  Words become by behaviors.  Keep my behaviors positive.  Behaviors become my habits.  Keep my habits positive.  Habits become my values.  Keep my values positive. Values become my destiny.” – Gandhi


It is with grateful heart and a not-so-crooked face that I write this two years later.  And, although there is no need now, ha ha….I still make funny faces when someone pulls out a camera.


To our health, and…may we continue to life each other up. xo



5 thoughts on “What I Learned from Bells Palsy.

  1. Nina, this is so inspiring!! I am in tears after reading this. You are such a special woman. Bravo, my friend. Love, M.

  2. I found your blog after you “liked” one of my photos on instagram. Great job with the whole blog. Kudos for writing the the things I wish my patients would hear when I discuss diet. My moniker on IG is “toothlessfatass”, a tribute to all those patients that don’t listen 🙂

    Excellent job!

  3. Pingback: To Begin Again. | Daily Kale

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