The Story Behind the Smile
I was born with facial paralysis on my left side. Facial paralysis is a condition where a person is no longer able to move some or all of the muscles on one side of the face (according to Medline Plus). With this I have a bunch of different problems. I can’t move my eyebrows, my left eye doesn’t close all the way, and I can’t move the left side of my face, well that used to be the case. It has been twelve years since I had a very important surgery that gave me the ability to smile. This week I want to share with you how this has impacted my life. Today I’m going down memory lane and taking it back to twelve years ago.
I don’t remember a lot of my childhood but what I do remember is that I dreaded picture day at school. There are only a few pictures from primary to middle school that I actually liked. I vaguely remember going to doctors when I was little and them saying they couldn’t do much about my facial paralysis until I was older. When I was about fourteen I went to a doctor and that is when they told me about the smile surgery. This surgery would allow me to move the left side of my mouth. I would finally be able to fully smile.
What is the smile surgery?
This consisted of two surgeries. The first one the doctors took nerves out of my leg to put on the left side of my face, then connected those nerves to the nerves on the right side of my face. The recovery time for this one was relatively fast. Then a few months later I had another surgery. This one involved taking a muscle out of my leg and putting it in the left side of my face. Recovery time was a little longer for this one. If you want to learn more about the smile surgery, check out this website or, if you watch The Good Doctor, this episode featured the surgery I had.
The First Time I Noticed A Change
I remember exactly where I was when I felt the left side of my face move for the very first time. I was riding in the car with my mom and I remember looking over at her with excitement and saying, “hey mom look what I can do!” It was the best feeling ever and I’ll never forget it. The next few months I adjusted to my new ability and learned to control it more.
The next school picture day I was looking forward to getting my picture taken. When I got the proofs back I started tearing up. It was like conformation that I could smile, even though by then I obviously already knew I could. That picture remains to be one of my favorites I have ever taken.
Other aspects of my facial paralysis still are apparent. At times I catch myself complaining about things I still can’t do, like making funny faces in pictures, but I try my best to quickly change my perspective. I may have moments of weakness, but when it comes down to it, my ability to smile means the world to me.