Bells Palsy, The Flu and Lymes Disease

What an odd title? 
There is good reason for that title, ticks can still be active in temperatures as low as 3.5ºC!
 
What is a tick?
 
A tick is a small arthropod, that is related to spiders, mites and scorpions, and will attach themselves to a warm blooded host to feed on the blood supply, often lying in wait on foliage like ferns, grasses and similar plants.


 








What is the combination of the three, Bells Palsy, the flu and Lymes Disease?
 
I have Bells Palsy, or as it seems to be now called, Facial Palsy or Facial Paralysis, most likely as a result of a bad bout of the flu many years ago, which will have triggered the Bells Palsy.
 
Bells Palsy is basically caused by trauma to the nerve in the seventh cranial canal. The end result could be total nerve damage, resulting in paralysis to the face, on that side.
 
First some back ground.
 
Those of you who know and have walked with me, I will have told you what the facial disfiguration is and how it was most likely been caused.
 
Please do not stop reading here, because there might be some parts of this that you may not be aware of and although it is too late to repair the facial disfiguration, if you or someone close to you by misfortune happens to have Bells Palsy or facial paralysis, then hopefully it can be resolved quickly and limit any damage that may result.
 
The first and most important reason why I tell people is should I become unconscious for any reason, when medical help arrives, you can then provide the medical team that bit of information, which will help them assess what is wrong.


Still enjoying a day out on the hills.



Hopefully that will not happen, but we can “never say never…”
 
What I want to do is to draw your attention to the damage that can be caused by a tick bite. I will also show some photos over myself, showing the gradual degradation of my face over the years.
 
Don't forget, a tick is a very small arachnoid that will sit on a blade of grass, a fern or any other plant, waiting for a warm blooded host to brush past, so it can attach itself and feed on the host’s blood.
 
This tick attached itself to my trousers
while walking through bracken
To give you an idea how large that tick was.
the weave on those trousers is extremely fine





 

Some ticks carry a bacterial infection called Borreliosis. I’m not going to go in to detail here, what I recommend is that you visit the Lymes Disease Action website, which will give more information and more up to date than this write-up that will not be updated quite so frequently.
 
Often, it is the incorrect removal of a tick, by flicking them off, burning them, pulling them, along with many other ways, which basically upsets their feeding and causes them to regurgitate the contents of their stomach in to the hosts blood stream.
 
Borreliosis can seriously affect the nervous system in many different ways. I’m lucky, for the only obvious post infection signs I have is the Bells Palsy, or facial paralysis, along with the fact I don’t like bright lights.
 
There are others far worse off than me.
 
For the preferred method of tick removal, please refer to the Lymes Disease Action website, for any changes to how and what to remove ticks with, will be described on there.
 
It’s all too easy to overlook a tick bite, as being an insignificant insect bite. I did, but through ignorance of what ticks can harbour.
 
My story goes like this;
 
Back in 1996, my old dentist retired, sold his business premises which became a retail shop, so I had to find another dentist to help me look after my teeth.
 
This I did and I duly registered, had the initial check-up and the Dental Surgeon asked;
 
How long have you had Bells Palsy?”
 
What’s that?” I asked and the Dental Surgeon began to explain basically what Bells Palsy was. She also added that she had no problem treating me, but would prefer if I visited my GP to ascertain the severity of the condition and if it could be treated.
 
At this point I gulped!
 
What the hell had happened to me?
 
Before I go any further, you may be asking why I hadn’t noticed any changes to my face.
 
Well it’s as simple as this, I keep my hair short, so I don’t need to brush my hair or, I shave by feel and not visual, therefore using a mirror wasn’t a necessity. So that's how easy for me it was to not notice the change.
 
So I duly made an appointment with my GP.
 
The day for the appointment arrived and I explained to my GP why I had come to see him. He took one look at me and explained it isn’t something that he could resolve in the time allowed, but suggested that I book a double appointment where he could look at the condition and my life.
 
The GP I saw in our group practice is also an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist, looked at my face and started to ask lots of questions.
 
To cut a long story short, I was with him for close to half an hour, where we looked at my life history in great detail.
 
It’s very rare that I down ill but there was one occasion where I was bed ridden with the flu. I don’t really remember much, other than almost for 48 hours, I didn’t move out of my bed, I ached, felt lethargic and didn’t eat, drink or do anything other than sleep!
 
Now not being one to go running to my GP, I just put it down to the flu, slept, then carried on as soon as I was able to get out of bed, job done, flu over, life carries on, etc.
 
Sometime later, I experienced involuntary twitching of the right cheek and eye. Again, I didn’t suspect anything; we all have these twitches from time to time.
 
Life carries on…..
 
The flu was January 1989 and the diagnosis was August 1996, some seven years later, by which time, muscle waste had long since been and gone!
 
We agreed it seems the Bells Palsy was a result of trauma to the nerve on the right side of my face, causing the paralysis of that side.
Two images of a tick.
The left is before feeding on its host,
the right is when its been feeding from its host


This was where my GP felt the trauma to the nerve may have resulted. In fairness to my GP, he could only diagnose on the information presented to him and I had no further information to give him.
 
Well, that was it as far as I was concerned, it was too late to do anything about it, muscle wasted had long since been and gone, and I’ll carry on regardless and make the best of life, as I always have done, irrespective.
 
Then, some years later, I think it was the Great Outdoors Show at the NEC one year, where one of the team from the Lymes Disease Action asked if I had Bells Palsy.
 
Needless to say, I said yes.
 
We got talking about Bells Palsy and Lymes Disease and ticks. It was a very interesting chat, with some more probing in to my life history, and again, to keep another long story short, I recalled back in 1988, a lovely September day in Snowdonia, when I got back to where I was staying, and tried to flick an insect off my face!
 
For earlier that day, I had been out with my two border collies, and as all good dog owners do, mess around with the dogs in a playful way.
 
I guess that would be where I picked the tick up, an ugly looking thing, that I had only felt on the side of my face, not actually observed until it finally fell off, on to the floor!
The September day, while out in Snowdonia,
with my dogs, when I acquired a tick!


 
I remember it well; it was an ugly looking thing, bulbous brownish body, which was disposed of.
 
Those who understand ticks and Lymes disease will see a catalogue of don’t do’s appearing here!
 
But as I mentioned earlier, I was ignorant to the damage ticks could do to humans, only suspecting animals could fall victim….
 
I then discovered that an infected tick bite could have flu like symptoms, around twelve weeks from the infected bite.
 
If you recall the dates, things start to add up.
  • September 1988 Tick bite
  • Very early January 1989 Flu infection
  • Early 1989, no date available, involuntary twitching of right cheek and right eye.
I then made an appointment to see my GP armed with this new information, to see what his thoughts would be.
 
I shared this new information with my GP, the one who I had spent half an hour plus with before, looking at my life history, and though he didn’t totally ridicule it, he didn’t buy in to it.
 
I came away a little disappointed, but fully understood that he wouldn’t be able to commit, for there was no conclusive test to confirm whether anyone has had Lymes disease or not.
 
So in fairness, I have no, grievance against my GP, he was doing his job to the best of his ability and training and medical guidelines of the day.
 
What I will say is, he has always kept a keen observation on my Bells Palsy and never been slow when I’ve reported any changes, discomfort or other observations, to follow them up and treat as required.
 
If any criticism is to be apportioned, then it is should be to my dentist and optician, of pre 1996, when at some point one or both of them should have questioned any notable changes to my face.
 
But neither did I.
 
However, that is history to me, I’ve moved on, I have a very supportive wife and a fantastic son, so Ive no axe to grind today and as I have already mentioned, Im lucky, I can still get out and about.
 
There are many who are not so lucky, they too still make the best of their lives, to the best of their ability.
 
Incidentally, to every negative, there is always a positive. My Bells Palsy means I cannot blow balloons up for parties, a task I always hated, especially when the balloons burst in your face! 
 
Note how the right side of my face has dropped,
pulling the right lower eye lid down....



Just to close, I have no problem talking about my Bells Palsy to anyone. I’m happy to share my story, not for sympathy, but for others to learn and be aware; ticks are nasty little critters with a bite that could maim!
 
A quick recap;
DO NOT just remove a tick by force, burning, flicking off or any other method you would employ to remove small insects.
 
ALWAYS USE the preferred method(s) as advised by people like Lymes Disease Action
 
If you suspect you might have been bitten by a tick, then:
 
DO NOT HESITATE TO SEEK
MEDICAL ATTENTION
AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
 
If you do remove a tick, either by the preferred method or different, do not wait for any rashes to appear, particularly the Bulls Eye rash that was once associated with an infected tick bite.
 
It is possible that no rash will occur, but any infection may be spreading through your blood stream.
 
The sooner you act, the easier it will be for any doctor to stop any further damage that might result and treat you as required.
 
This might seem all too frightening and even make you think twice about going outdoors. Please do not let it stop you enjoying the great and wonderful outdoors. Just be observant, be aware and take precautions while you are out and about.
 
July 2013, I met up with some of the wonderful people from BADA-UK, which has had to close Wendy, the Chairperson of BADA-UK, unfortunately is paralysed as a result of Borreliosis.
 
Wendy Fox, Chairperson of the now closed BADA-UK
at Ragley Hall Game Fair, July 2013


Sadly, BADA-UK have had to close. However, there is still a wealth of information and websites out there, one of which I've already mentioned; Lymes Disease Action. Or, if you type Lymes Disease in to your browser, then a whole host of websites will appear.
 
I take precautions, wearing gaiters and long trousers, especially in summer, and still enjoy the great outdoors, as you will see if you read my other blogs.
 
Finally, if you carry a First Aid Kit, which you should do, then invest in the preferred tick removal tool, as per advised by Lymes Disease Action, place it in your First Aid Kit, so if you need it, then it’s there ready for you.
 
If any First Aid Kit suppliers are reading this, please would you consider making the tick removal tools as part of the kits you supply, particularly those First Aid Kits for outdoor activities.
 
Finally, happy rambling and thank you for reading,
Peak Rambler
Twitter           @PeakRambler
Flickr              Peak Rambler Flickr Photo Album
YouTube        Peak Rambler on YouTube
 
References
Lymes Disease Action
 

11 comments:

  1. A very interesting read - very informative, thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Louise. Please feel free to share this with others, so they can be aware.

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  2. Thank you very valuable and useful, appreciate you sharing the information

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  3. Thank you for the very useful information

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    1. Colin, you're very welcome, and thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

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  4. Many thanks for sharing your story

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    1. You're welcome, thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

      PR

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  5. My son also developed a Bells Palsy at the age of 12 and a flu like illness a couple of weeks earlier. We went straight to hospital as the Bells Palsy was developing and he was treated immediately with anti-virals and antibotics to cover all bases that the Palsy could have been due to either a viral infection or Lyme disease. We then took him for intensive Chinese accupuncture sessions- acupuncture being the Chinese Drs treatment of choice for Bells Palsy. After a couple of days, the muscles on the paralysed side of his face started to move again, 2 weeks later the Palsy was gone. Several months later, we found out his NHS Lyme test was positive. He hadn't been walking in Highlands, camping in the New Forest or picnicking in Richmond park but simply walking to school across a golf course and playing in our garden, where we later discovered an abundance of ticks. So, a cautionary tale of Lyme disease being caught in the most urban of places, not necessarily whilst just rambling in the countryside. Please be aware.

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    1. Bells Palsy if caught quickly, can be stopped. However, for me the time gap was too long, or I would have sought medical help.
      I can't comment on alternative medicines, though I know of many people who have benefited from proper use of acupuncture and other forms of alternative medicine.
      For me, the time gap is too great, not days or weeks, but years.
      Recently I've been reading and hearing reports of ticks in the urban environment, places like public parks being a classic, and I guess we could also include golf courses.
      Why golf courses, the same with public parks, mammals will travel across the grass. Mammals will include foxes, badgers and a whole host more....
      It's scary, but we need to be alert to ticks, and other parasitic life forms that can harm us, our pets and other animals.
      Interestingly, a bad flu bout can also be triggered by Weil's disease, which is caught from rats!
      Bells Palsy its self is primarily caused be trauma to the nerve in the seventh cranial canal, which could be the result of Lymes Disease, or even Weil's disease, or other infection, being the initial infection causing the trauma to the nerve.

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  6. Thank you for permission to add this to the listing for #May12BlogBomb to raise awareness for diseases such as ME, FMS, MCS and Lyme. I'm delighted to have a post on Lyme to link too. Check out other awareness posts on the day at http://sallyjustme.blogspot.co.uk/ Thanks.

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    1. You're welcome.

      It's good to see greater awareness of these diseases and hopefully less people will be victim to the adverse affects.

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