The Making of a Besom Broom

The Making of a Besom Broom

My Besom Broom

For several years we lived in Baughurst, a small village near Tadley in Hampshire, UK and one of our next door neighbours was Jill a Besom Broom maker. A settled traveler making these was in her blood and she was a joy to watch. In the summer Jill used to sit on a chair outside her garage, a pile of Birch twigs and wood handles ready and weave her magic.

Since at least the 14th century Tadley and Baughurst had a proud history of Besom Broom making. The villages were near enough London to send carts loaded with brooms to sell. The growth of the use of these brooms had blossomed after the Black Death when people began to be required to clean the streets in front of their accommodation. In 1953 there were at least ten ‘broom squires’ working in the area, by 1965 this had fallen to two and I was lucky enough to live next door to one of them.

My big regret has always been that we took the brooms and access to them for granted. So much so that we never thought to buy one, even though we had seen them being made from scratch. Sadly Jill is no longer with us now to buy one from.

Fast forward many years and all of my memories of watching Jill came flooding back when as part of my training with the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids(OBOD) was the suggestion to make a Besom Broom.

I live in an area with many mature trees and in the garden have Ash and Hawthorn as well as immature Oaks but sadly not a Birch in sight. Having had the hedges tidied in early spring before the birds began nesting we had left the trimmings in a pile at the end of the garden. I began by thinking I would find what I needed there even if it wasn’t Birch and sure enough pulled out loads of twigs that looked long enough for the brush part and two pieces of wood that had been part of the winter windfall, one of Ash and one of Hawthorn strong enough for handles. These I put to one side to dry out further.

As soon as I began to collect the twigs together once they were dry, it became quite clear that they would not be strong nor flexible enough for a broom. My husband came to the rescue suggesting that I cut back some of our overgrown bamboo and used that instead. At first sceptical I researched this online and found it to be a good substitute for Birch and so I cut what I thought I would need and left them to dry.

Once the leaves on the cut bamboo had dried and were easy to brush off I collected the stems I needed together and bound them tightly (with a little help to hold them tight). Too lazy to cut, strip, soak and dry brambles I admit I cheated a little and used some artificial sinew left from shamanic drum making. I was undecided between the two pieces of wood for the handle until the Hawthorn made it quite clear to me that it was that I was meant to use. Once it had I realised how Well it fitted into my hand.

As soon as the handle was fitted into the bamboo I wanted to try it out and so used it to sweep the stone slab outside of our conservatory. I’d like to say it worked but sadly not. The bristles splayed and although tied securely felt as though they were twisting round the handle. The solution was to tie again, twice more this time further down the broom to hold the bristles further. Problem solved.

I have just used my Besom Broom to sweep the carpet in the shed I use for crafting. The carpet was covered in twigs, leaves and who knows what else, but the broom made short work of it. It feels firm, solid, strong and although I can see things I could have improved on, for me it is a thing of beauty, a really practical tool, magic in the way it cleans and it is all mine 🙂


Omen Days – Signs and Omen for 2022

December 2022 omen

I decided to wait until I had finished the Omen Days of the 12 days of Christmas before sharing anything I had picked up. All I am going to do is post the signs or omens I was given each day and what I was intuiting from these for the corresponding month. If you have been doing this too it would be really interesting to know if you see any patterns or what you found for 2022 so please share in the comments.

26th Dec – January

My attention was drawn over and over to groups of gulls, different species all hanging out together. There was a bit of space between them but they were still clearly groups. The message here was that life is too short to spend it isolating, hiding away to stay safe. Time now to start mingling safely 

27th Dec – February

Too wet to go outside but my attention was drawn to the pine tree at the bottom of my garden. The top 5/6ft of this is bare branches and all greenery some way below. So even when it looks like there is nothing happening and everything is dead or dormant there is much going on underneath the surface.

28th Dec – March

Walking down a country lane asking for clear omen I saw a traffic cone on top of a gate in a field which made me laugh and immediately got ‘expect the unexpected’. Further on I came across a road work sign only visible because the hedge had been tidied and then further on down a tiny lane was another one. From all of this I am getting to pay attention and expect the unexpected but it might be fun. 

29th Dec – April

On my walk today after asking for signs or omen I found my attention drawn to the colour yellow – broom in flower, autumn leaves laying on the banks, a yellow sign on a pole….I asked for a clear sign as I wasn’t sure if it was the items or the colour and then rounding a bend I saw in front of me yellow tape tied on a post. So today and for April it’s the colour yellow representing joy, happiness, new beginnings, sunshine and of course spring.

30th Dec – May

The omen today came right from the start with me waking to an unseasonal 11 degrees rising to 13 later today and with nature coming inside to meet me in the form of a wasp. We also have very heavy rain and dark skies which is not unusual but very much feels part of it all. With the wasp and mild temperatures being totally out of season here I am getting that May will be unexpected, unseasonal, out of time in some way, nothing quite how it should be. There may also be a chance for purification this month, for ourselves as well as the world. Wasp carries a whole lot of symbolism but this didn’t feel appropriate for me here, only the fact that out was out of time.

31st Dec – June

Today was all about sound. The sound of children playing, water rushing over rocks in a stream and a Robin singing it’s heart out. From this I feel June will be about really listening, being aware of what is around and the variety and meaning of sounds or what is heard.

1st Jan – July

The omen today was the wind; strong, blustery, pushing me forward, holding  me back, tipping me sideways and then not there at all. Then the realisation that it wasn’t the wind that was changing though but me changing direction as I walked. July may be changeable and not always easy but when it is hard or difficult it is us that needs to shift our stance or direction not whatever we are up against. 

2nd Jan – August

Walking today my attention was drawn to the unevenness of surface I was walking on, the amount of branches the gusting winds from yesterday had brought down and which I was having move around and the red berries of the holly that were strewn on the ground. Had I not been being aware and mindful as I walked these could all have been obstacles but because I was were not a problem. So for August there is a need to be mindful, to be aware, to keep an eye out for potential obstacles but know that if we do they will be easy to avoid and will not cause us any difficulty. 

3rd Jan – September 

Beach walk today. Blue skies, high clouds and a mirror like surface where the tide had gone out, these were the omens I was given as I walked. Calmness and serenity came with this. The wind of the last days was still present but instead of being blustery and difficult, today it felt steady and invigorating invigorating. Before I walked was aware of the dip today, counting how many more days were left to go asking for signs and omen in nature, feeling the weight of them, but I returned home feeling renewed and reinvigorated. 

4th Jan – October

The temperature today is half what it has been for weeks so winter with a bang here. Blue skies again but no wind despite it being crisp and clear. What really caught my attention whilst walking though was the stillness and how quiet it all was. So maybe we are in for a calm, quiet October or at least one in which we are able to stop, be still, reflect and gather our strength.

5th Jan – November 

The icy cold on my face as I walked and the heavy frost on the ground, quickly followed by the sound of a plane (very unusual here), seeing its flight overhead and then a blackbird flying low and fast directly across in front of me. The sudden noticeable shift from stillness into movement. The movement was later reinforced by a flock of seagulls flying in the sun and the sunlight flashing on their bodies lighting them up. I was hoping the plane was a sign of travel ahead but my intuition is pointing instead to the sheer joy of movement during the month after the stillness of October/early November.

6th Jan – December

Out walking today in the strong and gusty wind, sunshine on one side, dark sky on the other and then the rainbow appeared. Faint at first but getting stronger and stronger against the dark sky. So for December it seems that there may be challenges but there are brighter things ahead. Not a bad omen to end 2022 🙂 .

The Cailleach

Although I have known of the Cailleach for a long time I have never felt draw to her or the need find out much about her but last year, as I sat at Samhain, I felt her very close to me for some reason. I have no idea why I didn’t share this blog then but having found it now, two days after Winter Solstice, still deep within her realm it seems right that it is shared.

I don’t know if this is the result of illness last year and a fractured foot this year both of which made me aware of my vulnerability and the fact I don’t bounce quite as quickly as I used to, or the government frequently talking about the old and vulnerable i.e. anyone over 65, but as I start to write this I can feel her tapping on my shoulder so I guess it is time for some research.

With the lockdowns in 2020/early 21 and having to be being extra careful this year, it really has been quite the time for reflection, for being still and going within, for lighting a candle and thinking about the ancestors so the Cailleach who felt appropriate in 2020 still feels so this year. It has after all been a time for slowing down, for reflecting on what is important for living for the moment and not being concerned about what comes next. This fills me full of peace.

In the Irish poem Caillech Bérri, also known as ‘The Lament of the Old Woman of Beare’, the narrator claims to be the old woman of Beare, a peninsula in West Cork in Ireland and is lamenting her lost youth and the pains of old age. Reading this made me realise that there is nothing for me to lament and I certainly don’t have the pains of old age much preferring the connection of the Cailleach to the idea of a wise woman.

In many ways this is quite comforting for it gives me a sense of where I am now. For many years a perpetual student with an interior age of about 17 it could well be a sign that it is time to grow up a bit. I am not afraid of the Cailleach, of the crone, it is just another phase in my life, a shift in my energy, a time to recognise where I am now and she draws near to let me know this.

I love that she rules the winter for this is a time I find difficult being a warm weather person who loves sunshine. Thos feels especially important this year as there have been no holidays, no real warmth or sun and we are now facing into many months of not being able to get away. Maybe now I will find a way to be at peace with the winter

The Cailleach is a seasonal spirit and is sometimes referred to as the ‘Queen of Winter’.

As the second side to the goddess Bridgit, she is said to rule the months between Samhain (the first day of winter marked on November 1st) and Bealtaine (the 1st of May and the first day of summer), while Bridgit rules over the summer months.

In some versions of the tale, the Cailleach is turned into a boulder on the last day of winter and waits out the warmer months in this form before transforming back into her human shape on Samhain.

The stone she becomes is said to remain moist despite the warmth of the summer months, because of the life force it contains.

One of the goddesses of early Ireland was the Cailleach (hag), a wild woman who wore a veil to signify her mystery. She had powers over the land, the birds and the beasts and could take on various forms.  

The southwest of Ireland was associated with the otherworld, especially that of the dead. Donn, the old Irish god of the dead, was said to live on an island off the Beara Peninsula in West Cork.  The Cailleach is usually known as ‘An Chailleach Bhéara’ (The Hag of Beara) and was said to live there also.  Her name was Boí which is connected with the word bó (a cow); at the tip of the Beara Peninsula is Inis Boí (later, Oileán Baoi) which was said to be her residence.

The Cailleach was venerated in place names and shrines throughout Ireland and Scotland where she was known as ‘The Old Wife of Thunder’.  She was to be feared and respected because whe was also the goddess of winter, which gave her the power of life and death over communities that were more than a few square meals away from starvation.  

She was ‘the daughter of the sun’ who grew more powerful as the days grew shorter and the weakened sun was lower in the sky.  She wielded a slachdán (wand of power) with which she could control the weather.  As the sun regained its strength the Cailleach would lose hers, before she was finally overthrown at the spring equinox in March, which was the ancient New Year’s Day.

The Cailleach appears to be connected with the Irish banshee and the ‘Welsh Hag of the Mist’, both of whom could be heard wailing on the wind when someone was about to die. Distant relations of these supernatural beings were the wise women who, until relatively recent times, would provide their communities with herbal remedies, spells and potions.

12 days of Christmas – Omen Days

It seems strange to be sitting here on Winter Solstice writing about the 12 days of Christmas but with the week that’s in, it if I don’t share this now it will get forgotten.

I have just stumbled across a way of divining the coming year using the days from 26th December to 6th January and rather than try and explain it in depth, am instead going to share Caitlin Matthews blog post on this.

According to Caitlin, historically these days were considered to be ‘days out of time’ and were used to observe the state of nature and from this divine the state of the year to come. Liminal times and places are often used in divination as it can be easier to access what is on a day to day basis beyond our sight so the use of ‘days out of time’ to do this makes sense.

It is well worth reading Caitlin’s blog as well as doing a Google search as there is loads of information online but basically using each of the 12 days to represent or symbolise a month of the year, you set an intention to find an omen. By observing the signs or omens during the day or at the time you have set you then use them for insight into the month the day represents. So 26th December would symbolise January, 27th December, February and so on.

I love signs and omens walks, where after asking a question I go walking and then the first three things that catch my attention are my signs or omens and will give me my answer or insight. Of course my job having received them is to make sense of them, to interpret them, to make them into a story as it were. This is the approach I am going to take with the 12 days. I am going to ask my question, go, or gaze outside depending on the weather, see what catches my attention and then make sense of it. I will record whatever I receive each day as there is no way I will remember it all. Once I have done this for all 12 days I should be able to see the story for my coming year as a whole, as well as one month at a time.

Others suggest using this method to draw Oracle or Tarot cards for the year but I always love working with the natural world for answers and insight so this is the way I will go.

These things happen

These things happen

It’s strange because last time I was here I was writing about having been unwell and here I am again writing about things not being ok.

This time though it is a completely freak accident, one that would perhaps have been hard to avoid other than to have not been doing what I was doing of course. So what was I doing?

I was helping move a bookcase, a large pine one and yes it did need to be moved as the room it was in needed to be emptied out. I should probably explain here that this is a bookcase that I have helped move before without anything happening so I had no qualms about doing so again this time. I did though have the going backwards end and it was the going backwards that proved to be the problem. I stepped back, probably a little awkwardly and that was all it took – I now have a hairline stress fracture on the top of my foot, in a place where neither a boot nor strapping is of any use. The only thing is to rest it and try hard not to make it worse.

I wouldn’t mind but over the various lockdowns I have discovered the joys of getting fitter than I have ever been before through walking, QiGong and Zumba both online and on Zoom. I now of course can do none of these….or can I?

It seems I can up to a point. I can walk, in firm soled, supportive shoes (for me this is trainers) for a maximum of 30 mins before resting and I have been lent a pair of crutches by a friend which helps me move around without using my injured foot for weight bearing too much.

To be honest I’m finding the shoe bit really hard. As a child I would go out of the house wearing shoes, take them off and drop them in my bag when I got down the road and out of sight then pop them on again when I was almost home. As an adult I have always spent almost all the time barefoot at home and when I could get away with it, at work. I hate walking on a beach with shoes on with a passion and never usually have them on around the house or garden, so the wearing shoes bit is one of the hardest things for me and one I am failing at miserably.

As far as exercise goes today I discovered a seated cardio workout with weights that was cardio enough to record both fat burning and cardio minutes on my Fitbit and there are many more of these on YouTube thankfully. I also found a seated version of one of my current favourite QiGong practices, 8 Pieces of Brocade. None of these are the exercise I have become used to but I’ll survive. It’s only Zumba I haven’t worked out yet but give it time.

So do these things happen or could this have been avoided?

If I am honest I have been getting messages from my guides for a little while, about balancing the focus on my physical and mental bodies with my spiritual, which to be fair I have been neglecting quite a bit. OBOD Ovate work has been left to one side plus with retiring from seeing clients and training students I suppose I have paid less attention to my energy and shamanic ‘work’, but some of this is just my giving it space to find it’s place in my life after retiring. Honest.

I am a week and a half into a six week period of ‘taking it easy’ to let the hairline stress fracture heal. Maybe during this time I will find that balance as well as the place for my spiritual work to sit alongside the rest of my more active life. But am I willing to sit things out and not exercise? The answer to this is a firm and resounding NO! I just need to be creative for the next few weeks and see how it all fits together so nothing else needs to ‘happen’. This may involve a few more conversations with my guides, possibly a bit of shamanic journeying for guidance or insight, maybe some dowsing, who knows how it will pan out. What I am sure of is that there is always a way to make to all work if I put my mind as well as my intention to it and try.

My Experience of Bell’s Palsy – 7

As I said in an early post, at the beginning I knew nothing at all about Bell’s Palsy and it was hard at the start to find useful information. I gained a lot from reading a blog about someone’s experience so that is really why I decide to blog about what it had been like for me.

What I did learn, online mainly, is that it can strike at any age and that around 0.02% of the population worldwide contract Bell’s Palsy every year. Strangely very little seems to be known about what causes it. It is thought though that it might be caused by a virus, be post viral, a result of lyme disease, stress, hypertension, heart attacks, a million and one other things, or caused by nothing at all.  It is said to be best described as an event, a trauma to the nerve and recovery depends on how bad the initial trauma is.

This trauma takes place as a result of inflammation in the CN7 nerve (seventh cranial nerve) or its nerve sheath. This nerve runs behind the ear, connects to and controls the facial muscles. When this nerve is inflamed, or compressed by the sheath it can no longer control the facial muscles, hence facial paralysis on the affected side.

The inflammation is why high dose steroids are prescribed and the connection to a virus or post virus infection is why they also give high dose antivirals. One thing I also learnt was that the sooner these are taken the more chance there is of some recovery and that within 72hrs is the optimum time. I started taking both within 24hrs.

I know how lucky I have been with this and how unusual it is to have had nearly complete recovery within a few weeks. Everything I read said that any recovery can begin to take place from two weeks to three to six months after the initial paralysis but can continue for nine months or even years. I read posts online from people who had had complete recovery, partial recovery and no recovery at all. There seems to be no pattern to the recovery nor any one thing that made a difference.

So what may have helped me?

  • That I was lucky enough to have a Dr who responded quickly, got me to hospital quickly and that I began taking medication early.
  • That I had access to so many amazing distance Reiki and Shamanic healers. I knew I had this support and was being taken care of so could just relax.
  • That I knew what to take in terms of the Australian Bush Flower Essences Waratah and Crowea to help my body to release the trauma and shock so it could begin to heal.
  • That I knew how to work with nerve damage and a singing bowl and had someone who could help me as I couldn’t reach to do it myself.
  • That I did just stop. I gave myself permission to rest, to do nothing, initially for a month, in the knowledge that I could extend this complete rest if needed.
  • That I was somehow able to stay positive, not to worry or stress about what was happening.
  • That I treated myself to bluetooth headphones so it was easier to relax listening to audiobooks without all the wires. Doing something nice for me felt good.
  •  That I treated myself to something to look forward to by way of some dumbbells and new resistance bands. While I knew I couldn’t exercise in any way, not even a short walk I also told myself there would be a time when I could and whenever this was these were there for me.
  • Having good friends nearby who, at the beginning, both dropped off cakes, scones, chocolate, soup, vouchers for a take away for my husband and myself, along with bunches of flowers and who contacted me regularly to see how I was doing and if we needed anything.
  • Having a brilliant husband who took over everything, so all I had to do was rest up.
  • Walking bare foot in the garden, grounding myself in my body also felt as if it was both doing me good and was important all the time I was unwell.
  • And finally recognising that I was unwell, that this was me being sick and that it wasn’t something I could work through or shake off was definitely a huge factor in my healing.

I can’t say to anyone who goes through this do this or do that, it works. All I can say is what I feel helped me. At the first visit to my Dr I asked him about facial massage and exercises. His answer was that he really didn’t know. If my paralysis had continued I would have looked into these and also into seeing my cranio osteopath but for me neither were necessary. I read online about someone who found reflexology very helpful which of course could be another alternative. Another thing that was recommended to me was a TENS machine for pain relief but having looked into it ‘just in case’ it appears a more beneficial machine could be a TENS/EMS machine as the EMS function helps tone muscle groups and provides massage.

There were two websites that I did find useful early on when trying to understand a little of what was happening to me. These are The Bell’s Palsy website  and Southampton Universities site both carry comprehensive information and also useful links to information.

There are no photos accompanying any of my posts about Bell’s Palsy mainly because I was never inclined to take any. There was no reason for this, no thought behind it, although having come out the other side I realise I am glad that I do not have any. I remember quite clearly how my jaw felt that first night as well as how it looked and do not need to be reminded. Some sites recommend taking nine photos each day to assess the situation, and to see any improvements and for some this might be useful but I was simply never drawn to do so. Hence there are no photos.

One thing I was completely unprepared for was that there would be a point many weeks after I was back to normal where it would all catch up with me and that there would be a period where I felt stressed and overwhelmed, both mentally and physically. Presumably despite everything I had done to support myself, this was the shock of everything that had happened catching up with me. The other thing I hadn’t anticipated was how long it would take to get my energy back, how long I would feel physically tired for. It was over three months after the initial event that I began to feel someway back to ‘normal’ energy wise. Better energy levels and being able to get back into exercising and walking of course really helped dissipate any remaining stress, as did a birthday weekend away walking, relaxing and being totally spoilt. 🙂

My Experience of Bell’s Palsy – 6

Four weeks after the event saw me completely off the steroids and with a little over two weeks of antivirals to go. Finishing the steroids made a huge difference to my sleep and for the first time since the event my tiredness felt normal. I began to sleep for longer and occasionally found myself dozing off in the chair whilst listening to an audio book. I was still resting as much as possible to give myself as much chance to heal as I could and friends were still sending distance healing to me.

By now I had around 90/95% of movement back in my face, mouth and eye. What was left to resolve was small, fine muscle movement mainly around my upper lip and above my eye, that probably only I was aware of. My eye was still dryer than usual but I found was using the eye drops less during the day although I was still using the Vitamin A drops and an eye mask at night to protect my eye whilst I slept. I also continued to wear prescription sunglasses during the day even though I was not aware of any sensitivity to light. Wrap around sunglasses were always on when I was in the garden or sat anywhere there was breeze. It really was protect my eye at all costs.

Due to the fact that I was still on antivirals which continued to make me tired and a little forgetful, I was still not driving. I may have been ok to drive if I had needed to or in emergency but it really was not worth the risk so I refrained.

I was still getting crawling sensations around my face, especially up inside my nose, across my cheekbone and into my ear plus on some days, especially when the weather was damp, there was a dull aching in my face but lucky there was no real pain at all so it was just something I was aware of.

The thing I found most interesting about these four weeks was that at no point was I bored or looking for something to do. This was completely unlike me. There were times when I found myself thinking of things that I could be doing but it was never ‘I could do this now’ only ever ‘I could do this one day’. I seemed content to rest, to relax and to keep everything for some point in the future. Looking back I can see how much all of this helped me as my body had nothing it needed to be doing other than to heal itself.

At five weeks I had almost all movement back in my face, eye and mouth, At six weeks I had all movement back and the eye Dr in the hospital, when I went for my follow up review, checked twice which eye it was that had been the problem, spent a few minutes trying to open my eyes while I tried to keep them both closed and then pronounced I had all my muscle movement back. Great to have confirmation and to be given the all clear.

After resting for six weeks what was left to do was begin to rebuild my stamina, strength and, thanks to the meds, my immune system. I had though learnt the importance of not pushing myself, of being gentle and not expecting too much too soon so I approached this with the ‘however long to takes’ mentality that had got me this far.

My Experience of Bell’s Palsy – 5

Three weeks after the event I hit a wall. Up until then I had been able to see and feel the difference in my facial muscles as they began to work again but suddenly this changed. I think mentally this was the hardest part of the whole process. It was here I began to consider that this really might be ‘as good as it gets’. Despite this ‘as good as it gets’ being really good for three weeks of healing I could feel myself becoming a quite dispirited.

By this point I had almost all movement back in my mouth. My lower jaw was back to normal but there was still weakness in my upper lip. I could smile, show teeth, eat pretty much normally but if I yawned or tried to open my mouth fully I could see and feel it wasn’t right yet. I doubt anyone else could unless I pointed it out but I knew and that was enough.

My eye could close and blink but was still getting dry and so eye drops were my best friend. I could move my eyebrow and forehead to some extent by now but the muscles above my eye lid were not fully working still. Again I doubt anyone else would have noticed this but again I knew. I also recognised that I would have to make a decision within the next three weeks about whether to keep my follow up with the eye Dr at the hospital. I had been told I didn’t need to go back if my eye was ok but how would I really know?

I kept telling myself that as I could still feel crawling and tingling in my face and so healing was still taking place but not being able to see it, only what still wasn’t right, was hard. I assumed that the reason I couldn’t see any changes was because it was the fine muscle movement that was being reactivated and that a) this was less visible, b) would take much longer or c) would not happen. Did this help? Not really if I am honest.

I made the huge decision at the three week point to stop taping my eye at night. I was worried of course about my eye opening during the night, scratching the cornea on the pillow or eye mask but knew I had to be brave enough to do it at some point and not let it become a crutch. My eye was closing easily and staying closed so the sensible part of me knew there wasn’t any risk really. I continued to use the Vitamin A cream and the eye mask to protect the bed linen but the tape went.

This week was also the week I was easing my way off the high dose steroids, one less every day and a lot of how I was feeling in terms of my mental state might have been connected with this. I now appreciated why people might benefit from counselling during the recovery period especially if this phase lasted for months or years, or if there had been little or no improvement. I discovered an online weekly meditation group and joined that via Zoom. This helped me enormously as it was mindful, gentle, gave me time out each week and something I could use any time I needed to get out of my head and give myself a break.

As I came off the steroids I found I was able to do a little more each day. I wasn’t as bone wearily tired despite only getting 5-6 hrs sleep each night. Insomnia was listed as a side effect of both the steroids and antivirals so I suppose I was lucky to be getting this much sleep really.

My Experience of Bell’s Palsy – 4

My second visit to my Dr was two weeks after the initial event. By now I had about 80% of the movement back in my mouth, could close my eye and blink all of which were huge milestones. My Dr, happy with the progress began the task of running down my steroids slowly so my body could cope with the withdrawal. This was not pleasant as every morning my body felt wired until the lower dose kicked in, but was necessary as stopping steroids can actually be dangerous.

Since around five days after the event I had been having tiny ‘sparks’ in my face, around my mouth at first and then up my cheek and below my eye. By the second week my face was aching pretty much all the time as the nerve re-connected with muscles and my face gradually adjusted. My pain threshold is high and so I was never in actual pain but my skin was crawling 24/7 as things reawakened, around my mouth, in my cheek, inside my nose, back into my ear, below my eye, above my eye lid,  on one occasion a sharp transient headache vertically down my forehead on the affected side and on another a sharp pain through the back of both sides of my jaw.

Up until sixteen days after the event I had been cutting all my food into small bites but on day sixteen I discovered I could actually bite into a small peach and a small plum without needing to cut them up.

These various milestones, along with the crawling sensations in my face which told me something was happening, really helped keep me positive through all of this. I was determined not to put myself under any pressure or stress and so each day my thoughts were ‘If this is as good as it gets I can live with it’. This allowed me to get myself out of the way of my body’s own healing process and just allow it to do what it was capable of without my mind interfering.

My Experience of Bell’s Palsy – 3

After the ED discharged me, my Dr picked me up once more and an appointment was made to see him a week after the initial event. My main concern by that time was the debilitating tiredness I was feeling but was told that this was exactly how I should be feeling as what I needed was total rest. Not just rest for a few days but for a whole month so my body could repair and heal. My body, he explained was fighting the virus, the meds and trying to put things right. After hearing that I understood and so just gave in to it all. The steroids were to continue as long as there was improvement and I was prescribed a months supply of antivirals.

I discovered over the following days that I could do small things that lasted around 10 minutes, any longer and I was totally wrecked and so I allowed myself one small thing a day and then only if I wanted to. Everything else either waited or got left out, there was nothing I needed to do except heal. I put myself under no pressure to do anything whatsoever. Anything that needed me to follow instructions, use a knife or heat was done under supervision. Needless to say I went nowhere near driving my car at all, I certainly would not have been safe to try and drive.

Very gradually over the next week my jaw began to move more normally and eating became slightly easier. At the same time my speech became harder to understand when I spoke at normal speed and some days I could feel my lips and teeth getting stuck on some letter formations and sounds. When I remembered, I tried to slow down when speaking. The real highlights though were realising I no longer needed the lid on the keep cup and then the fact I could drink out of a normal cup once again without ending up wearing the contents. Food still often ended up around my mouth as opposed to in it, but less and less as the days progressed. For some reason the hardest thing to eat proved to be ice cream. One happy day I even managed to eat fish and chips. Ok so I broke everything into small pieces but I still ate it.

I am not someone who gets sick, nor am I the kind of person who willingly does nothing yet here I was able to give myself up to the need to rest 100%. Usually I would have tried to push through, to accelerate the healing process, to deny my body what it needed above all else, which was the time to be still and to carry out the phenomenal healing that all of our bodies are capable of. This is something I do not believe I have ever done before but resting, being still and watching the smallest of changes take place gave me the incentive I needed to continue to do so. It helped of course that I had read in several places that trying to get the muscles working before they were ready and the nerve had healed could be counterproductive. I certainly wasn’t about to inflict any further damage upon myself.

There was also the additional benefit of being sick during a pandemic as even if I had wanted to work I wouldn’t have been able to as all therapy work, like most other sectors was closed down. I had no excuse not to rest, I wasn’t letting anyone down and nothing mattered except my own healing.