A week ago the wrinkles fell right off my face, leaving it as smooth as a baby's behind.
Good news, right?
For one thing, those frown and laugh lines disappeared from only one side of my face. And the second and biggest reason this wasn't some blessing from the Youth Goddess is that the "eraser" was Bell's Palsy.
That name was familiar to me, but I didn't know it was a virus that hops onto the 7th cranial nerve and stomps the life out of the facial muscles that nerve controls.
But I know it now.
And have found out a lot of other people know it, too.
Everyone who has seen my new paralyzed look has either had Bell's Palsy or knows someone who has had it. It is no respecter of age-12-year-olds are no more exempt than 40s, 50s or people like me who recently smiled through a wonderful 70th birthday party my kids threw for me.
Bell's Palsy leaves us all with saggy, droopy, lopsided faces that can smile on only one side. Then there's that one, wide-open, glaring eye that not only can't shut, but can't even blink.
It's not a pretty sight.
And, it easily strikes terror into children, as I found out when I visited an ophthalmologist to learn how to protect my eyesight during this "new experience." This kid in the office-about nine years old, couldn't take his horrified gaze off my taped-shut eye and hound dog look. Evidentally he'd been raised to be polite because he really tried not to look. Rather than ignore his obvious curiosity or bore him with medical details, I just grinned a gargoyle smile at him and said, "I'm ready for Halloween."
It gave him a laugh. Better than screaming.
Bell's Palsy has thrown a crimp in my plans for getting acquainted in Sunnyside. I moved here in mid-September, and wanted to drop in on a Kosmos meeting for people over 50. Somehow this isn't the face I wanted to introduce to a group I've heard good things about. Even if I can now do a pretty good imitation of one-eyed Popeye the Sailor Man, they probably aren't ready for me. Driving is too difficult, anyway.
A good looking, over-50 guy I talked to this week took a bolder approach than I'm managing to do. He said he's had this virus twice, once when he was 25 and again about seven years ago. He said he bought an eyepatch at Bi-Mart, slapped it on and continued to play a great game of darts. I told him he must have looked very debonair. "...and gallant," he added, with a grin (on both sides of his face).
It's inspiring to see and hear about people who have recovered in weeks or months, less hopeful to hear "years" or "never."
In a recent article, I read that Theresa Heinz Kerry, 62-year-old wife of presidential hopeful John Kerry, was asked about her rumored Botox injections. She not only admitted to them, but said it was almost time for another treatment. Looking at her smooth forehead and baby-butt-cheeks, I'd say she was good for one more campaign trail.
If I understood my ophthalmologist correctly, Botox does the same thing Bell's Palsy does, but on a mini-scale. So, unlike Mrs. Kerry who is looking forward to her next smooth 'em out injections, I am eagerly awaiting my 7th cranial nerve's rejuvenation and the return of all my frown and laugh lines.
Bring on the wrinkles. I want them. I need them. Hey-I earned 'em! Besides, I can kiss better when both sides of my mouth are working.
. Frankie Potts is a retired journalist who spent her career working at numerous newspapers throughout the state of Washington.