Topic: Bell's Palsy and the oboe?

Hi all,

I made an "oops" and originally posted this in the main section....hope people here see it too! smile

I am a freshman oboe performance major at James Madison University. Over this past weekend, I was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy after feeling my face go numb and realizing that my right side wasn't working! Currently I am on steroids, an antiviral medication, and am on a vitamin therapy program.
Has anyone out there been through this or something similar? Are there any recommendations as far as anything else I can do or things that I can do to start playing the oboe again as soon as possible?
Thanks so much!
Annie

oboeannie.wordpress.com

Re: Bell's Palsy and the oboe?

Hello again,

So guess you have a buddy to suffer with if you want it... I just got diagnosed with Bell's Palsy last Friday evening, after trying to get through two days of rehearsal (HA!) prior to seeing a doctor. Got to be sidelined from my principle part on Pulcinella......(so mad!!!)

Feel free to contact me if you'd like. I hope your recovery is speedy! In the meantime, here's to being partners in cane preparation!

Kindest,
Sarah

Share

Re: Bell's Palsy and the oboe?

OH NO! sad

I am soooooo sorry...if it makes you feel any better, I was diagnosed the week before Christmas, and I am back to playing oboe again. Despite the horror of it all, if its treated, it doesn't take that long to heal! 

Are you on any drugs? (that sounds worse than I mean it to! haha) I did two weeks of steroids, two weeks of antivirals, and vitamins (a multi, b complex, c, e and zinc I believe) I also had a lot of luck with massage therapy (to keep the muscles from atrophy), and got a lot of suggestions to do acupuncture, but it healed before I made the appointment.

If theres anything I can do, let me know! I hope you have a super speedy recovery!
Musically yours! A

oboeannie.wordpress.com

Re: Bell's Palsy and the oboe?

I'm so glad to know you're doing better so quickly, both for you yourself and for hopefulness' sake. I'm *quite* over this already and it's only been a week..... hmm

If it's okay, may I ask what your vitamin therapy entailed and how you came about it? My doctor put me on antivirals for one week, and I refused the prednisone since it makes me sick enough to prefer BP over so much as the thought of taking it. He never mentioned anything of the sort. Luckily my case is pretty mild - I look normal, well, as normal as I ever do anyway smile so I don't think he quite got the message that I'm interested in pursuing alternative therapies and that for a musician, this is not a small deal, even if it's fortunately very mild and basically unnoticeable until we start talking about daily functions.

Scott mentioned that he heard from you, by the way. We were talking about it the other day and he wanted me to pass along his hopes that you're doing better. It certainly seems like you're getting there!!!!

Random semi-aside, what the heck is with all the people I know getting this?!?!? I go to Duquesne University, and seriously there have been around 5 or 6 cases of bells among faculty and/or students in the past 4 years. And both my parents got it last year (for my mom, it was a second time!!!) 

Also, how did you know you were on the mend? Did it just kind of "snap back"? Did strength even out from one side to the other? I don't know how to even when I should TRY to start playing again. It's stopped progressing, which is good, and I can close my left eye almost the whole way now on a consistent basis, but my lips are all sorts of jacked up. Esp. my upper lip.

Thanks again for your correspondence! It's good to know that, while it sucks, there are people out there who turned it around quickly.

Share

Re: Bell's Palsy and the oboe?

Finally started playing again. Acupuncture was a godsend!!! Not just for the BP, but for a multitude of other issues as well. BUT, does anyone know anything about the "post BP" nerve sensations?

While I'm not 100% recovered, I look basically back to normal, and the oboe playing is slowly coming back (very bizarre "brain remembers how this is supposed to work, face does not" experience of oboe embouchure), but I keep getting these very strange sensations, very akin to twitching, though my facial muscles aren't actually moving. Another way to describe it would be that if my head were a cell phone, it's set to vibrate and goes off at random.

Also, after playing for a short time, I get a lovely ache all over my whole face. Not a muscular "haven't played in awhile and everything is weak" ache, but nerve pain, even in my forehead and behind my left ear (ie the side affected by the bells palsy)

Thoughts? Anyone's experiences?

Share

Re: Bell's Palsy and the oboe?

After a nerve disorder, residual symptoms are quite common -- a good example of this is shingles, the neurologic problem realted to the virus that causes chickenpox. I agree that the synmptoms you're experiencing are not musculoskeletal, but neurologic in nature. Injured nerves may take some time to remember their actions -- regneration of function is measured in months, not days. Hang in there, and play as much as your facial muscle endurance allows; don't fatigue the muscles by trying to do too much at one time. I, too, would be interested in hearing from other instrumentalists that have had Bell's palsy, learning of their long-term experiences.

Dr. Bill Dawson, bassoonist and teacher
IDRS medical consultant
Past President, Performing Arts Medicine Assoc.
Author of "Fit as a Fiddle: The Musician's Guide to Playing Healthy"

Share

Re: Bell's Palsy and the oboe?

So after a month of rebuilding my embouchure essentially from scratch, and a half of a month sounding better than I've sounded in my whole life (making everything seem worth going through it in the 1st place), I seem to be going through a relapse of sorts regarding the bell's palsy.

I was kind of pushed into full-use playing by the second week of coming back to playing (we had a substantially difficult concert on the 15th of March), and have had a busy school performance and gig schedule up until now, plus was prepping for a grad recital and playing an opera. At this moment in time, I can still play, but playing aggravates the already annoying symptoms. Probably isn't helping that I also got a really swell bronchitis thing that I'm still fighting off 15 days later, even after a course of antibiotics and enough mucinex to choke a horse, as per the doctor's orders.....

Symptoms that have returned are: headaches on the affected (left) side (worst symptom, also made worse by playing or stress), extreme stiffness on the affected side (not full paralysis like before, thankfully), and my embouchure, while holding in some capacity, is definitely pulling towards the good side a little bit. Also, that great "head on cold desk" feeling has returned.

Anything I can do other than go back to what I was doing before? (acupuncture, herbals, vitamin therapy, rest, time off the oboe...) Any suggestions for the headaches? NOTHING I've tried makes them go away whenever they start....no medication, OTC or Rx, makes them stop, application of gentle heat makes a marginal improvement but is impractical during the day. Headaches are actually worse than before, which is disheartening.

My recital has been postponed once already, and now has been postponed indefinitely again. Also not graduating because of this, making my masters turn into 3 and a half years for a 2 year degree. Any advice, ideas, etc would be much appreciated. While not graduating sucks, at least I can take the summer as an opportunity to focus on recovering permanently.

Share

Re: Bell's Palsy and the oboe?

Sorry for the dalay in answering -- was at another music meeting: Do you think your recurence of symptoms was due to excessive time/intensity of playing?  That said, it seems you should contact your neurologist again for some further answers to your questions. Although I'm not aware of headaches being a sequel of Bell's palsy, something's going on that needs professional evaluation and counsel. Once you've gained information from your physician, you should discuss this with your faculty advisors regrding scheduling of your academic requirements.

Dr. Bill Dawson, bassoonist and teacher
IDRS medical consultant
Past President, Performing Arts Medicine Assoc.
Author of "Fit as a Fiddle: The Musician's Guide to Playing Healthy"

Share

Re: Bell's Palsy and the oboe?

Otterhounds- My face does the same "twitchy" thing all the time, and I'm at about a year since my original diagnoses. I'm not really sure why it does that, but it doesn't seem to impact my playing. I've never heard of headaches as part of bells palsy, even though I've had a few brief relapses....

How is your playing going? Sorry to hear about your recital.

oboeannie.wordpress.com