Monday, November 27, 2006

PT for me

Today was Career Day for William. He got to tour the local physical therapy office here in Twentynine Palms today, while I had my first physical therapy session for my Bell's Palsy. I guess I should say that today was another Career Day for William. He's already gotten a taste of the medical world, plus he's visited my old office at the newspaper.

The physical therapy session was really interesting. The therapist asked me a raft of questions about the Bell's Palsy---how it first developed, how it progressed, and how I've been regaining function, whether I've had any pain and where, about my past medical history, and so on. And she asked me a lot about my ears and the area around my left ear (my affected ear). She asked me if I'd ever had shingles or chicken pox. I had a monster case of chicken pox in 1979, which I told her about, and she asked if I'd had any pox in my ears. I didn't know, and when I called Mom, she didn't remember. Because there is supposedly a link between a herpes virus and the palsy, the therapist mused that it's possible there could have been a connection between the long dormant virus in my system and the palsy. She detected some inflammation in and around my left ear, and she talked a little about the possibility that I may still have some of the swelling putting pressure on the cranial nerve.

So she manipulated my head and neck to try to work the muscles and to see if she could determine more about the inflammation on my left side. Then I had some type of electric current therapy, where a technician directed a weak current through the muscle in my neck, sort of below my left ear. Then the therapist gave me some facial exercises to work on between sessions. I'm oversimplifying by summing up, of course, but she seemed very enthusiastic about being able to help me. I admit that I was relieved that the therapist called my case a "textbook case" and was optimistic about my regaining even more function. I had worried that she'd tell me that I'd likely never see any better movement in my face than what I have now. Obviously, I look much better than I did even a few months ago, but oh, it would be wonderful to regain even more movement and control.

William was good as gold during the whole session. He sat in his stroller and quietly played with his horse toy most of the visit, only occasionally serenading us with one of his little "songs." When the tech put the electrodes on my neck, however, William stopped playing and stared in fascination at the beeping machine. It sounded a little bit like those old electronic Battleship games to me, but I guess he'd never heard anything quite like it. The therapist laughed, too, when she glanced over at him while she was stretching my neck out because apparently he was gazing up at her with rapt attention, almost like he was memorizing her movements. Maybe! You never really know what goes on inside his little brain.

He was such a good baby today, especially considering that he hadn't had a nap all day, and my appointment was from 1 to 2 p.m. It was really gracious of the PT center and the therapist to let me bring him, too. Some places frown upon children, but not this place. They even told me that they could have an aide watch him if he was fussing while I still was undergoing treatment. For that, I really am grateful. I know that I can always put William in the CDC on base for a few hours, but it's nice to be able to save those occasions for other things.

Next PT is Wednesday afternoon.

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