The full moon rose over the ridge to light the river below with the same pale hue as the sky. From my vantage the curve of water could have been a stray arc of atmosphere fallen to the cityscape of mercury vapor stars that clung to the mountainside.

Sporadic thumping helicopters eased their way through the darkness to the lighted square of concrete below my sound-insulated window, the visitors ablaze with lights and the locals approaching their familiar home base in darkness.

The view would have been magnificent under any other circumstances, the moon, river, mountains, and aircraft weaving a tapestry of my favorite things, but the insistent beeping and melodic chimes coming from the hallway reminded me that this was the seventh floor of Erlanger Medical Center and circumstances were not ideal.

Earlier I had finished my post and slid the computer over to my favorite proof reader. Before I took free advantage of her capable services I thought it would be nice to ask how she was doing.

“I’m having trouble doing this,” Suzie said as she used her finger to purse her lips together. Red lights flashed and alarms sounded in my head.

“Smile for me,” I asked and moved directly in front of her. The right side of her mouth did not move. Mental flares exploded across my brain.

I jumped up, knocked on my son’s door, left him in charge of our puppy, Nessie, and rushed Suzie out the door to the E.R. I assumed she was having a stroke. So did the triage nurse. So did the doctors. We were all wrong.

Now I am sitting on my designated couch-soon-bed waiting for Suzie to return from her final pounding MRI of the night. The current diagnosis was Bell’s Palsy which really means,”We have no idea.” It is a name for partial facial paralysis with no discernible cause.

What’s good about this is what it’s not. It’s not a stroke, seizure or brain tumor. I suppose it’s also not a meteor. Things could be worse.

What’s bad about this is the partial facial paralysis. It means Suzie’s right eye doesn’t blink. Her mouth leaks when she drinks. She has difficulty saying M’s, B’s and P’s.

The best part, however, is hope. Bell’s Palsey, the diagnosis that isn’t, has been known to cure itself without any medical intervention.

With the latest medications, expert care, thousands of dollars of very expensive tests and doctors from five specialties, it has also been known to “resolve” itself. Or it could be a micro-stroke. Apparently the difference is the word resolve and every negative possibility carefully explained to prevent lawsuits.

Oh, and the great hospital food.

Suzie should go home sometime Wednesday, regardless. We’re praying it wasn’t a small stroke which would be harder. We’ll know more later.

Her biggest problem is the inability to blink her right eye. She has to do it manually. Imagine how many times you blink in a day. Now, hold your eye open for as long as you can and see how quickly it gets intolerable.

Her most frustrating problem is her crooked smile. I think it’s cute. It looks like she’s up to something, which she usually is. She doesn’t believe me.

She’s a hard sell but I got her to marry me so I’m confident. She would say stubborn. I’m okay with that.

There’s much reason for gratitude. It will be easier to see in the morning. I will update as we go.

Thank you for your prayers.



The MRI is clear and Suzie’s going home so doctor says no stroke. Paralysis must be related to ear infection. Slightly improved today but will have to wear an eye patch for a while and follow up if improvement doesn’t continue.


Photo: Chattanooga at night by fdtate via Flickr

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