I spent a bad night last night, feeling miserable with the pain—more than since the palsy first started. This I hadn’t expected. After all, who would expect that paralysis could cause pain? Sometimes it’s just a dull aching, but persistent and annoying. Last night, the Tylenol that had helped in the past didn’t help and the pain kept me awake.

What is this unexplainable, ugly thing that’s come upon me?

Bell’s palsy is an unexplained episode of facial muscle weakness or paralysis. It begins suddenly and worsens over 48 hours. This condition results from damage to the facial nerve (the 7th cranial nerve). Pain and discomfort usually occur on one side of the face or head. Bell’s palsy can strike anyone at any age.

My mouth is crooked, I have trouble eating, don’t talk normally, and need to drink with a straw. For the first while, my left eye wouldn’t close, leaving it dry and uncomfortable. But—thank God—that’s doing much better.

The majority of people who develop Bell’s palsy recover without treatment. You should notice a gradual lessening of symptoms within a few weeks. Depending on the extent of nerve damage, full recovery can take two to six months. Some symptoms last longer, and some people never fully recover.