Thursday, January 1, 2009

Oscar Wilde may have been on to something

Oscar Wilde once quipped, “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy.”

A friend I haven’t seen in a couple of years read my axe murderess posting and immediately fired off a tizzy storm of questions yesterday. What Bell’s Palsy!?! Why didn’t you tell me?! And, what the heck is Bell’s Palsy, anyway?

Come to think of it, she’s a lot like her mom.

My own mom once suffered a full-blown panic attack in a supermarket. Dad had to peel her hands off the shopping cart to guide her out and drive her home. The cause of the attack? She was embarrassed by some small incident long lost in memory – and filled with morbid dread that people would notice.

Don’t get me wrong. My mother is a woman of amazing character with many fine qualities I strive to emulate in life. Being rendered helpless by embarrassment just doesn’t happen to be one of them.

And yet, my first reaction to my friend’s email was to say (like mom), “oh, not to worry, just another of life’s little vicissitudes.”

I caught myself in time. Even though Bell’s Palsy is indeed a force of change that happened beyond my control, my friend deserves a real answer. So, why hadn’t I told her – and almost no one else who hadn’t actually seen me in this condition?

Because it’s embarrassing.

Basically, it’s an interruption of the message system your brain uses to tell your face to smile, or wink, whistle or wince – but just on one side. The side not affected can only wonder why it’s suddenly stuck with all the work and none of the joy. The over all effect is . . . surprising.

I know I made a singular impression at a wedding in July when my face was at its most startling stage . . . you’re just so front and centre when you’re the mother of the groom.
And a job interview a couple of months later also held a certain thrill. The kind that comes when you just don’t know the moment when you’ll suddenly find yourself gazing into several astonished faces simultaneously.

Well yes, you are embarrassed – and they are, too.

I’m still available, btw, if anyone has a gig to offer.

Five months in, the surprises and thrills have become more subtle. Most (80 – 90%) gain full recovery, usually within a few months. And I’m doing interesting exercises to help retrain the muscles. I suspect my penchant for cracking up – they DO look hilarious – may be slowing the process somewhat. But don’t expect any video postings . . . they’re just so embarrassing.

Okay. So I haven’t entirely surrendered my self esteem to this temporary condition, but I’ve still allowed myself to act in ways to avoid being embarrassed. Like staying a bit housebound and being slightly withdrawn with friends who would have liked to know what I was going through and the chance to be the supportive, caring people they are.

Come to think of it, that’s a lot like my mom.

So, question of the day. Did Oscar Wilde just toss off a silly quip . . . or was he actually on to something? Please share a comment and let me know what you think.


  1. I think Oscar was afraid of women and his mother moreso! lol
    As for the BP...thats a tuff rope to tow and it sounds like you've about finished with it, good for you. Nasty little visitor that one is happy to hear its on the way out.
    Keep up the great bloggery posts I'm enjoying the read!

  2. Maybe a bit of why I haven't been able to bring you your b-day present?

  3. I think Oscar tossed out a silly little quip, that actually had some merit! lol

    I find myself acting and sounding more and more like my mum. It's frustrating (because all through my youth I swore I'll never be like my mum!) and wonderful, because I so respect her and love her with all her quirks and idiosyncracies.

    As for the BP, it seems to like to strike those who have to be front and centre in an upcoming wedding. I too went through it 2 weeks before I was to be a matron of honour, and fortunately I was relieved of it 2 months after it struck.
    As for the wedding pics? They turned out alright, as the bride was sympathetic (she said, but I know it was done selfishly and I can't blame her. lol) to my plight and had all the photos with me in them standing sideways with my good side showing. lol

    Keep up the exercises and you'll be right as rain in no time!
    Ps. The exercises cracked me up too. :)

    Keep blogging I love it!
    Kelly aka Sweetbub

  4. Pen,

    I think old Oscar would have been afraid of our Susie.

    Thanks for all the chuckles and thought provoking postings.


  5. You are an incredible brave man, Dennis . . .LOL.
    Glad you got a chuckle, thanks for the encouragement!
    Cheers, Pen


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