Wednesday, February 27, 2008

If You Need to Smile...

then just watch this video.

Disclaimer - I didn't make the video and don't know who did. But it's been quickly making the rounds around the capitol and is guaranteed to make you laugh.

Monday, February 18, 2008


I just wanted to put out a quick, but really sincere, thank you to all of the people who sent me an e-mail, called, posted on the blog, etc. regarding my whole Bell's issue. I heard from everybody from friends and colleagues, to complete strangers and even former U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald, who was gracious enough to share some insights from his experiences with the issue.

I was really amazed by how many people either have dealt with Bell's or know somebody who had. Hearing from them was great and very helpful as well.

My spirits are much better, due in no small part to the fact that there is already some movement coming back to the left side of my face (not that I'm checking 30 times a day or anything), which I'm taking as a very good sign that this may be a shorter term event. I'm back off for acupuncture in an hour, (to do my stint as a human pin cushion), and am looking forward to being back down in Springfield on Wednesday.

I hadn't planned on doing another post this whole issue, but there was simply no other way for me to say how much I appreciated hearing from everybody. Thanks again. Now it's time to get back to business.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Apparently, it Tolls for Me

Given that it only afflicts about 1 out of every 40,000 Americans, odds are that you don't know anybody that has or had Bell's Palsy. Now you do.

Upon returning home last Friday night, I noticed that it was a little tricky for me to take a drink from a bottle of water, but didn't really think much about it. The next morning, my mouth still didn't feel just right, and a look in the mirror seemed to show that the left side of my face was drooping. It was that fast.

I went to the ER, petty sure that I hadn't had a stroke, but knowing that something wasn't right. I had heard of Bell's, and once I googled the symptoms on my Treo while in the ER, I knew the diagnosis before I even heard it from the neurologist. Nevertheless, having somebody who actually knows what they're doing tell you that you have it is like getting a kick in the teeth from somebody in scrubs.

Bell's is an idiopathic virus, essentially meaning that doctors aren't really sure what it stems from. There has been a correlation between getting Bell's and having had a previous respiratory infection, and given that I had been fighting what I thought to be a chest cold for a few weeks, I guess chalking it up to that and fate works as well as anything else. The fact that stress doesn't seem to help matters fits pretty well into the overall scenario for me.

The virus affects one of the cranial nerves (CN7), which in turn causes varying degrees of paralysis on that side of the face. In my case, my left side. If I'm expressionless, you may not pick it up at first, but you will eventually notice the asymmetry. The more animated I become, the greater the disparity between the two sides of my face. So far, I try to deal with it by staying relatively expressionless, making the situation a little less awkward for me and whoever I'm talking with.

The virus itself can be treated through a combination of steroids and antivirals. The bigger question is when, and to what extent, the resulting nerve damage is repaired. The good news is that about 50% of the cases resolve themselves in a few weeks to a few months. Another 35% of the cases get back to normal in about a year. The remaining 15% never get fully back to normal. While I'm trying to keep a positive outlook on the whole issue, I don't think that the figure of 15% has ever seemed so damn big before.

Yesterday, I went for acupuncture, which has been shown to have some beneficial effects on recovery. That whole experience is definitely worthy of a later post all its own. In the interim, I am taking about 30 pills a day, on a schedule requiring some form of quasi-military precision.

Listen, I can look all around me (or unfortunately, on a day like today, no further than DeKalb) and realize that in the big picture, I don't have a damn thing to complain about. And I get that, I really do. I guess that the bigger point of this post is an attempt to get this off of my chest (and mind), and to remind everybody to enjoy each day because you never know what the next one will bring.

I look forward to trying to get back into a regular routine, and am hopeful that this may just wind up as little more than a reflection on an anxiety-laden episode in my life that made me appreciate things a little bit (a lot) more. If it turns out that I overreacted to something that goes away in a month, I'm more than okay with that. If this turns out to be something that I have to deal with for the longer haul, well, what can you do? Time will tell. Thanks for hearing me out.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Equal Time

In the interest of being fair and balanced, since I posted the Barack video, I've been asked to post the unofficial McCain version of the "Yes We Can" video. Take a look, you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Local News

Those of you that know me are unfortunately aware that I'm somewhat of a geek about technological things. This means that I can get unduly fascinated about things like EveryBlock. I had been meaning to write about this site a few weeks ago when it was sent to me by my Chief of Staff, whose brother is a Microsoft beta-tester. I didn't, but a recent Tribune article jogged my inclination to do so now.

The site essentially aggregates news, crime reports and other miscellanea sorted by city, neighborhood or zip code. While still in its infancy, it currently only covers Chicago, New York and San Francisco, it is a very interesting idea that can help people be more aware of what's going on in their neighborhood, or to look into someplace that they're thinking about moving to or visiting. Check it out.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Words, Music and a Powerful Message

I came across this Obama video on Capitol Fax and thought that it's well worth sharing. It's a musical rendering of Barack's 'Yes We Can' speech that features, Common, Scarlett Johansson, Tatyana Ali, John Legend, Herbie Hancock, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, among others.

This video is as simple as it is powerful. You really need to check it out.