For those unaware, BELL’S PALSY is an idiopathic affliction of the 7th cranial nerve which causes paralysis almost always on just one side of the patient’s face. The resultant droopy lop-sided look is generally not considered attractive. Nobody really knows (that’s why it’s called idiopathic) what causes the malady but strangely, sitting or sleeping directly in front of an air conditioner often triggers the unfortunate circumstance.
I relate this today because just recently I talked with two different women who suffered from the effects of this strange condition. The first was my 87 year-old girlfriend down at the Henry Street Settlement. This woman is as sweet as she is batty. Her spirit is wonderfully young and I just love when out of nowhere she’ll belt out a chorus of “She Loves You” by the Beatles! Last Sunday, I offered to show her some stuff on the computer at which time she told me about her cataracts and Bell’s palsy. Sixty seven ain’t that much fun. Eighty seven is even less – I’m guessing.
So yesterday at the big Independence Day shindig, the mother of the girl who thought I was cute told me something I found very interesting. (By the way…I socialized with both daughter and mother independently of each other and only discovered their relationship later.) Apropos of what I can’t remember, mama related that she didn’t realize what beauty her face held until the woman was stricken with guess what after sitting in front of an air conditioner at her office job for the entire day. But by the Grace of God go we – as they say. And while I’ve never experienced Bell’s Palsy, I do have an anecdote on the subject.
You may or may not recall that one night in January of 2013, I went stone deaf! For a guy who loves music (in stereo), it was a panic-inducing time. To “the Google” (and the doctor) I went to discover that sudden profound hearing loss comes as a result of an idiopathic attack on the 8th cranial nerve. Thankfully, my hearing was fully restored (something the doctor predicted was unlikely) though really, that ear has never been the same since. It rings like a school bell and needs constant clearing as if I’m going up or down in a fast elevator.
So anyway, I had a horrible girlfriend at the time who told me one of her friends had just been stricken with Bell’s Palsy. And when I googled that malady to discover it’s idiopathic nature and location (one cranial nerve away from what I’d suffered) – and that it is often brought on by an air conditioning blast, I decided to pull the AC out of my window. Deafness and frozen shoulders was enough. I didn’t need a droopy face as a result of sleeping comfortably during a heat wave.
Along came the next July and of course, it was balmy in Dollar Billville. One morning there was a knock on my door at 9 AM. Bleary-eyed, I rose to answer and found two IRS agents were paying me a visit. After a one hour interview which just might have been the worst hour of my entire life, in came 10 or so other government employees with a search warrant (an expired one due to a clerical error, I might add. But more about that another time…maybe). And as the boys sweated onto their firearms (well…only one had a gun that I saw), my interviewers wanted to know why a person of my means was sleeping in the heat and humidity.
I wanted to say “Just so I could see you guys sweat”…but that’s not how I actually responded. Instead, I told them the truth – which no doubt was of no interest. Clearly, they wanted to be cool while searching the crib. Whatever…I’ll tell y’all what! Those boys came out drenched. Alas, it was small solace for the invasion. But still…I shed no tears witnessing their climatic discomfort.
We are now in my 5th air conditioner-free summer. The unit (which I assume still functions well) sits next to my radiator where I assume it will stay for the duration. And hearing those two Bell’s Palsy stories in the span of just three days ensures even more that that’s where the unit is gonna stay.