Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Strange Days

I don't know why, but it seems the last few weeks have been...strange. Have you ever gone through a brief period -- a few days, a week or two -- where the air seemed different, the "vibe" seemed off, somehow; and you were never quite sure what the next step should be?

I suppose it's partly the weather: it's been tempestuous, for sure, although where we've been spared much of Nature's real wrath, so far. The storms and tornadoes seem to have done their damage all around us, while sparing our neck of the woods. And of course, it all started with that earthquake, which was disconcerting (as earthquakes generally are, no matter where); the moreso because it happened in Virginia, and we felt it in Philadelphia! Strange.

I've been settling into my job a little more each day and developing a real relationship with my boss. In addition to filling in in another department, juggling two jobs, essentially, and cementing my reputation as someone indispensable to all and sundry. I was told over and over, by several people, that it would be a good year or more before I began to feel comfortable and they were right. In October I should be up for a review and I hope the good outweighs the bad; that the things I did that worked will overshadow the missteps. Still, I can't help feeling from time to time that I really don't know quite what I'm doing. (So I'm reading a book, "Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life" which is, in its way, teaching me that what I think about a given situation, what I project about tomorrow and what I feel about myself are just thoughts... not facts.)

And on top of it all, I'm involved in two productions for the Philadelphia Fringe Theater Festival: with my improv group, Tongue & Groove and the Hear Again Radio Project, which performs old time radio scripts live, complete with live music and Foley sound effects.

And then Bell's Palsy!

About ten days ago I began to feel feverish and had a scratchy throat... but only on the right side. I thought I was coming down with one of my sinus infections and so had my doctor phone in a prescription for a Z-pack and started the antibiotic. Then last Saturday I was on my way home from a performance, driving, and trying to whistle. But I couldn't. My lower lip, the right side, wouldn't cooperate. It felt numb, as though I'd had novocaine. And when I tried to squeeze my eyes shut tight, only the left one really shut! The right one closed, but... wouldn't cooperate.

By Sunday morning people were telling me to get to the ER, so Chris accompanied me to Cooper Medical Center in Camden where, after a lot of intake and interviewing and paperwork, I was variously diagnosed with Bell's Palsy -- which is caused by a virus and can make one side of your face droooop hideously; a trigeminal neuralgia, which is very like Bell's Palsy but with the addition of sharp, shooting pain; or Lyme disease, although that's a remote possibility.

I'm on Prednisone, now, a steroid; and Valtrex for the viral part of it (the same virus that causes herpes), but the palsy goes on. It is the weirdest feeling in the world to look at yourself in the mirror, grinning widely, and seeing your face NOT doing what you think it should be doing. The right side of my mouth just sits there, droopy. My right eye is a little lazy too, but not terribly. At least I'm not frightening small children in the street. No Phantom of the Opera mask needed. Thus far.

But strange... this is one of the strangest things I've been through yet. It upends your whole life -- you're not really sick enough to stay in bed, but something is... off. Like the slanted floors in an old amusement park funhouse. You're moving forward, but slowly, off-kilter, slightly in the wrong direction.


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