Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bell's Palsy and Neck Pain - Part 3

Part 3 - Antibiotics Round 3

Okay, on Monday February 6, I called the specialist and requested a second round of azithromycin. They did fill it, but they weren't convinced that the Bell's Palsy and the infection are connected.

Well, as I've mentioned in parts 1 and 2, my experience implies something different. For the first time since all of this began, my headache pain has virtually disappeared. I say virtually because the nerve is still mildly inflamed, but I don't feel the pain traveling along the nerve through the back of the head. Painkillers weren't working on the pain.

Taking in the entire picture and going by my own personal experiences with migraine headaches, I pretty much figure this latest head pain was tied directly to the nerve.

Now, considering my past experience - when I've had sinus infections, the migraines wouldn't go away until the infection had been dealt with. No amount of painkillers would or could touch them, not even Imitrex.

While I felt crappy earlier (around 7pm last night, I haven't slept yet), I notice that right now (5:47am, Feb 8), my neck only feels mildly stiff but overall breathing is better, my left ear doesn't hurt, and the pressure in my right ear has diminished. It's not completely gone yet, but it's getting there.

So, I've seen improvement in the infection, and I've seen a reduction in the head pain caused by the 7th nerve. The reduction in head pain implies that the nerve isn't as inflamed as it had been earlier.

Okay, so considering this, one can deduce that the improvement in the infection correlates directly with the reduction in head pain. Therefore, it can be said that the improvement in the infection correlates directly to the reduction in inflammation of that 7th nerve.

This brings me to my conclusion that the infection is responsible for all of this, and it will go away when the infection is cleared up. 

So far, I can say that the infection isn't completely gone, and neither is the facial paralysis. It's about 90-95% gone.

I hope that this third round will do the trick. If not, I'm not so sure they'll be willing to give me another round. However, I'm not seeing improvement as fast I had last week, but I'm seeing improvement, so that is good. Whatever infection this is, it really dug in deep.

To give you an idea of some of the weirdness I've noticed - when I massage the area around the nerve (muscles, etc), I feel thick fluid move into my throat and some movement in my ear. In fact, when the fluid moves, my right ear gets a little itchy. Seriously, the fluid has been so congested for so long I'm surprised it's moving now.

How do I know I still have an infection in my sinuses?

Well, I am still seeing dark yellow mixed in with the stuff I blow out of my nose. The chunks aren't that big and they've gotten smaller as the infection improves, however they still remain to gunk up the works.

I've got 3 days of meds left, so I hope I see some more improvement soon. If the discoloration of the mucus/phlegm doesn't change to it's normal clear color by Friday, I will phone again and ask for the round to be extended. I don't want to give this infection any more days to grab hold of my system. I just want to knock it out and be done with it already. I've had it longer than a month. I mean, I sat on it for awhile (at least a couple of weeks before the facial paralysis started) trying to let my body deal with it. I think it's more than proved it can't deal with this one on it's own. I'm off for some sleep now.  

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bell's Palsy and Neck Pain - Part 2

Part 2 - Treatment with Medication 

Okay, when I found out my MRI was clear and that it "was safe to call it Bell's Palsy" - no, this is not a definitive diagnosis because there are no clear indicators what's causing the facial paralysis. However, what else do you call 7th nerve facial paralysis?

One of my first concerns with all this happened to be the other meds I take. I needed to know if it was safe to take Mucinex-D, Allegra, naproxen sodium, as well as the other supplements I take while taking prednisone.

Turns out that it's safe to do so.

I've been taking Mucinex-D, Allegra, naproxen sodium and the following supplements before I was even diagnosed with this:

CoQ-10 100mg
Acidophilus 1 capsule
Cinnamon 1,000mg
Milk Thistle 175mg
Vitamin E 400 IU
Flax Seed Oil 1000mg
Cranberry 450mg

As of yesterday, I started using Triple Strength Cranberry which has 2000mg (2 g) per capsule as well as 100mg Vitamin C (167% daily value) and 10% of Vitamin E and Vitamin D3 (400 IU). Flax Seed Oil provides a source of Omega 3's (rather than fish oil), and I'm strongly considering adding in a Vitamin B complex. I briefly contemplated adding Zinc, but if I do, it would have to a small dose because it does seem to be in enough of what I eat that I shouldn't be deficient in it, but one never knows...

I added a B-Complex, but it seems like it might have been too strong of a dose, so I think I'll be looking to cut it down a bit to a level that makes sense for my body.

I finished my second round of antibiotics on Saturday February 4th and the prednisone a day or two before that. I had been worried that the prednisone made my facial nerve recovery possible, but now that I take in the whole picture - then up to now - I see that the likely impetus behind the quick recovery of my facial nerves would be the antibiotics.

Unfortunately, while I've made great progress while on the azithromycin, I didn't make any headway on the Amoxicillin and the infection got really out of hand. It got to the point that my breathing was terrible. The prednisone helped a ton, which is why I had some misconceptions about it, but it wasn't the cure all I first thought, which is why I had to get a stronger antibiotic.

I'm not completely healed, and I'm worried that I might start to backslide now that I'm done with the azithromycin. I believe that because, while I felt great enough to play disc golf on Saturday (mild pain in my right ear only), by Sunday morning I was feeling pain in my left ear and the pain in my right ear sort of picked up again. I ended up sleeping all day. I feel better, but I still feel a mild pain/congestion in my left ear. Since I'm feeling it in both ears, I know the infection isn't completely gone. However, because it improved so drastically while I took the azithromycin, I know I can get better with another round of antibiotics.
I'm almost there, just not 100% yet.

If what I've learned means anything, the key is keeping that nerve down.

Here's what I mean. Saturday night, I felt it flare up - in fact it kept me up a bit Saturday night and I had to ice it down. Then, I noticed a return of some of the pressure, etc. on the nerve and a small amount of tingles returned to face.

The connection between the infection/facial nerves and the effectiveness of the antibiotics can't be ignored. At this point, especially because the infection isn't completely gone, I do not believe waiting to see what happens is the right option.

I'm going to call the specialist and ask for another round of antibiotics because I'm tired of feeling sick, and I would love to be healthy - or damn close to it - by Valentine's Day.

I guess what it boils down to is that a "wait and see" approach just doesn't work for me, especially when a treatable infection is involved. It got as bad as it did in the first place because I was "waiting to see" if my body could deal with it and obviously it can't deal with this thing on its own...