S.C. TV Reporter Loses Her Smile after a Bell's Palsy Attack

Embarrassed that she couldn't smile and interact normally with people, depression set in, as it does for many patients with Bell's palsy. King's job as a local television reporter made the stress of her paralyzed face even worse. She had to stop reporting on the air while she tried to recover.

"I love my job. I'm one of those people who loves getting up and going to work in the morning," King said. "The first thought that went through my mind was what if this doesn't go away and I can't do my job anymore?"

The hardest moment came when King went to try on wedding gowns with her mother. Standing in front of the mirror, all she could manage was a lopsided smile.

"I just didn't want to look in the mirror," she said. "All I wanted to do was smile because I was so happy, but when I did it just looked so awkward."

When she explained her condition and the fact that she couldn't smile to the women running the shop, someone replied, "You are smiling. You're smiling with your eyes."

Gradually, King started to improve. It was 15 days before she could smile again. Now, more than three weeks after those first terrifying moments on the plane, King said she is about 97 percent recovered. But she still notices little things.

"I used to be able to wink with both eyes, now I can't wink with the right eye," she said. "But I'm by no means complaining. To have my recovery time be what it was is a blessing."

Although most people recover from Bell's palsy, having one attack makes it more likely that another one will strike. And some people never recover.

King reported her experience for WIS TV, and said she was inspired by the outpouring of support from people in Columbia, many of whom had Bell's palsy themselves, or saw the condition strike friends and family. She said the most important thing that kept her going through her recovery was the community's support and a determined faith that she would get better.

"Really, the prayers and keeping the hope and believing in your heart that this will get better was the key," King said. "Perspective is everything."

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