Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Tape, electrodes, gel.......sounds interesting??

...and today's outing was back to the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, for physio and speech therapy. I know my way around quite well now and in fact, got stopped and asked for directions by someone in the hospital today - maybe they saw that I was wearing Crocs and thought I was theatre staff!

Physio was fine - I have more exercises for my shoulder to stretch the muscles a bit more and found out that all the work I did at bootcamp had built up my pectoral muscles so much that my shoulder blade was being over-ridden, so there are some exercises I now have to do to redress the balance! I had anticipated that the physio might be a bit painful but  in fact it was fine - another appointment next week to monitor progress.

On to speech therapy and, like last week, the focus is on achieving symmetry and trying to stimulate messages to the brain so it remembers I used to have facial nerve activity on the left-hand side of my face! Good news on the eye closure - not only is my left eye closing more than it did last week, but it's also closing quite briskly, which is a good sign. Again, I know this doesn't mean that it's going to return to what it was, but it is encouraging that it closes well and it means I don't have to tape it at night or - worst case - have another operation to sew weights to it to help it close. We spent some time experimenting with taping up my cheek and eyebrow to give my face some support and help prevent muscle droop, which is a real possibility as the swelling and bruising gradually disappear. That was quite fun, like having a diy face-lift! The gel and electrodes came into their own because I am now the proud "owner" of an electrical stimulus machine - ooh err, missus! I have to put gel on two little electrodes, position them on my forehead and then I get zapped with an electrical pulse. 10 minutes today, 20 tomorrow, then 10 extra each day till I get to one hour and then stay at one hour for the next several months. In a few weeks' time, I might attach extra electrodes to my cheeks to see if it stimulates some recovery. My lovely speech therapist, who specialises in facial palsy cases, also discussed hairstyles with me and responses to make to people who wonder what has happened to make my face like this. She is a real gem and makes me feel so much better about how I look because she can see the improvements since last week. One thing she did say was that nerve recovery is notoriously slow and that they need to see how much spontaneous recovery there is before they do any surgery to try to improve how I look, or to introduce some animation to the left of my face - so it may not be for two years, which feels like a long time to have such a different face. I still find it odd that, when I talk, only one half of my mouth moves, because I feel as if I am moving both sides of it. I need to just accept that this new face is my normal now.

It's amazing how tiring all this is - I came home and felt that all I wanted to do was lie down and sleep, so I can't see me returning to normal party animal behaviour for quite some time yet! Resting is good, though, as it helps my body recover and helps me get ready for the next stage of oncology, my radiotherapy. On the plus side, the radiotherapy will make my (admittedly fairly impressive) scar fade :-D

I hope you are all impressed that, despite low energy levels and being at home all day, I have not succumbed to the dubious delights of Jeremy Kyle (aka Jeremy Vile)......bad teeth and bad tattoos seem to be the order of the day for those who appear on there, as far as I can tell!! Being at home is a good excuse for listening to music, Radio 4, reading and - latest project - working out how to download free books to our new Kindle. Anyone able to help???

As always, my life is made more comfortable and happy by the constant support of my lovely family and friends, who make me feel cared for and (in the case of my husband and children) beautiful (I keep telling them they need eye tests!). It does help, so much, to have support and positive thoughts and prayers so please carry on doing what you are all doing so wonderfully well!

Ali x


  1. Ali, I get teary smiles when I read your posts, I can hear you and see you.

    I got a few free and low price books on Kindle. I just went to the Kindle store and sorted it in order of price lowest to highest. There was all sorts of dross but I found some good stuff.

    Do you think your electrodes will work on my double chin? ;-p

  2. Ali: Your are beautiful. Now do not get ideas on places to stimulate using the electrodes.

    Big Hugs and Kisses. (Mr ST can have some too)

  3. Stimulation by electrodes....umm. Good to see that you are approaching this training programme (I see it in running terms) in your usual style. Listen to the coach, practice what they preach (with the odd 'off piste' allowed), building towards your goal.

  4. Just caught up with your blog having been away for a couple of days. Electrodes sound interesting just be careful what you do with them xx

  5. Way to go, Ali!

    Re: the Kindle, the Project Gutenberg website has loads of free stuff, including things in French. Download to your computer, then plug in your Kindle and drag and drop to the Kindle directory. Simples.

    Mr F

  6. Your inner party animal is only sleeping ... gawd help the world when it's ready to be unleashed again. I may have to be there to help.


  7. Thank you, Chubby Cat - and who are you? :-)

  8. Esther British Home Stores8 June 2011 at 23:44


    I am in tears reading your blog, so touching, honest, and how brave are you?
    I have been a little puzzled by everything said on your fb page, and earlier on tonight, as I was preparing the tea I was thinking about you, part of our meal this evening involved salad, including boiled eggs, as I was peeling the shells off the eggs, the memory of the summer of probably 76, or 77 came flooding back, when you and I had to peel boiled eggs in preparation for the next days sandwiches, it was that memory which prompted the fb message,all I can say is you are in my thoughts and I look forward to your next up beat positive installment,
    you really are an inspiration. Take care.
    love Esther

  9. Oh my - peeling those eggs was one of the worst jobs in the food prep room!! Remember we used to have to go to Malcolm Campbell's to get tomatoes when they hadn't turned up?

    For other readers - Esther and I were Saturday girls in the Glasgow branch of BHS, in the late 70s. Ah, those were the days.....

  10. I had to have similar treatment for a prolapse after having my kids - lets just say that the electrodes were connected to a pad soaked with water and it had to 'placed' in the area that needed stimulus!!!!! I'm sure I'd have to order such treatment from a 'special' site these days!

    Great to hear you so bubbly and positive as usual, sending lots of positive happy vibes your way x

  11. I love you Ali. No time to write you an inspiring letter this week (like you need one anyway having read this) but a wee cheerful postcard is on its way. xxxxxxx