I woke up bright and early last Thursday morning, as usual. But my left eye was tearing and nasal passage was stuffed. Ugh! Allergies, I thought, probably the result of raking a lot of grass the day before.
By day’s end it hadn’t gotten any better, despite taking an antihistamine. By midday Friday, it had gotten worse, as I now had a numb left side of my face to deal with.
And I was alone, having earlier in the day driven my wife to the train station. She was going back to the city for a couple of days. I was able to drive to the station and back–a total of about 50 miles–sheerly on motor memory; I have long said I could drive the local roads with my eyes closed, and I was nearly proving it.
By Saturday morning, my condition had not improved a bit, so I broke down and called my insurance company’s 24-hour nurse service. After hearing me out, and asking a few salient questions, she advised me to get myself to a hospital pronto.
This left me in a quandary: I was supposed to pick up my returning wife at the train station in about two hours, but my phone chat with the nurse had fairly alarmed me. I chose to drive to the ER, which is about 20 miles away from our house.
Another drive successfully completed by sheer motor memory, I checked in, signed the paperwork, and called my wife to let her know not to expect me at the station. In a matter of minutes, I was interviewed, brought into an examination room and visited by nurses and a doctor. I was quickly diagnosed but still given a CAT scan and blood tests for confirmation.
I had somehow contracted Bell’s Palsy; the CAT scan came back negative (all the marbles still in order), as did the blood tests. I would be put on a regimen of steroids for a brief period, and then have to patiently work my way through the months-long recovery process. All things considered, I was feeling pretty good!
My wife, meanwhile, called a friend who lives close by (as in three miles away), and he picked her up at the station and drove her to the hospital. They arrived by late afternoon to find me reclining in the examination room on a gurney, watching a baseball game. Wife came around to my side, took one look at me, patted my stomach and said: “I can see that you’ve been eating well since I left.”