Saturday, February 23, 2008

"The Bell's Palsy Challenge"

In November of 2005 I was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy. Prior to being diagnosed, I had very little knowledge of the disease. Although the annual occurrences of Bell's Palsy are about 20 in every 100,000 people, I have found that there are not many who are aware of this ailment. Basically, this is what Bell's Palsy did to me physically (please do not laugh too hard):

For those of you who think I have been "two-faced" at times.......

......well, you're right.

Bell's Palsy is caused by paralysis to the facial nerve. This paralysis causes an inability to have control over facial muscles on one side. Either side of a persons face can be affected by Bell's Palsy. The comforting (sense the sarcasm) thing about Bell's Palsy is that it is idiopathic, meaning that the "idiots" who have studied the disease have yet to come up with a conclusion as to what causes it.

There was some minor discomfort that came with the disease. The muscles on the paralyzed side of my face became sore, especially my cheek muscles. My right eye watered constantly due to the fact that I couldn't completely shut it. Drool would escape the right side of my mouth and oft times in public. Aside from the paralysis and these trivial symptoms, I was not significantly physically affected by the disease. On the contrary, Bell's Palsy was one of the most challenging things I have faced mentally and emotionally. I never realized how something as small as not being able to express myself with my face could limit me. My self-esteem took a major "Hiroshima," if you will (I apologize to any of the Japanese readership who find that analogy offensive). I remember feeling so frustrated that even though I was smiling, there was no way on God's green earth that whom ever I was smiling at was interpreting my smile as such. I found myself smiling (or attempting to) less often. When carrying on a conversation with some one I was always wondering if they were able to understand what I was trying to express. I am not the kind of person that takes things too seriously but I must admit that this is the closest I have come to being "depressed" in my life.

It took about 2-3 months for most of the symptoms of Bell's Palsy to leave me. I can still feel a slight amount of weakness in the right side of my face and when I press on my cheek muscle I can still feel the soreness. Being able to smile again made me feel so fresh (like how you feel right after you get the best hair cut you have ever had or after an enema). I regained my confidence and was able to communicate with people without hesitation. That was my "Bell's Palsy Challenge."

So here is my "Bell's Palsy Challenge" to you (participation is voluntary but I highly recommend it): Go a full 24 hours without using facial expressions (whether you work, chase kids around, go to school, pull dying people from car accidents, or watch Telemundo all day). If you would like to attempt to only use one side of your face to express yourself that is acceptable as well. After doing so blog about it, comment about it, email me about it, call me about it, send me a postcard about it, or tell me about it at the next family gathering.

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” -some Vietnamese monk

(This blog is dedicated to my fellow members of the Bell's Palsy Club, Ryan and Britt. May our faces never resemble that of Popeye's again.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Stay tuned for "The Bell's Palsy Challenge."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Vomiting vs. Merely Dry Heaving

(Warning! If reading about vomit or dry heaving makes you vomit or dry heave, then DO NOT READ PAST THIS POINT or you may vomit or dry heave or both)

A good friend of mine (Steve Stone) and his fiance (Daniela Garcia) are moving from Arizona to Idaho Falls. As a Realtor I have been helping them find a home. This last Saturday we viewed a good handful and they narrowed it down to "the one." As we made our way around town Steve and I took the opportunity to take a walk down memory lane. We did a good amount of "revisiting" old times and we often ended each experience with tears in our eyes (from laughing so bloody hard.) One of the moments we revisited was the "Emotion Bowl" (we both attended Skyline) of our Junior year. I recalled how some Idaho Falls students made their way into our crowd and released a fair amount of pepper spray. Everyone began coughing, choking, dry heaving, and me, well I was "wet" heaving. Since I was standing next to a girl and didn't think it would be too impressive that I puked on her, I covered my face with my coat. I threw up all over the inside of my coat and down my arm. Now, you may be asking why am I bringing this up. Well, I bring it up because of on odd coincedence. Here is what happened later that same Saturday:

After the home search I met my wife and son for dinner and then we met back up with Steve and Dani at the Destinations Inn to write up the offer. For those who are not aware, I manage the Destinations Inn (sweet deal on gift certificates right now by the way). Steve, Dani, and myself were in the lobby filling out the necessary paper work and my wife and son were behind the front desk with my wife's sister Jordan, who also works there. My son , Boston, had wandered into the back office behind the front desk. Suddenly, we hear phssssssssssssst (no, that is not a curse word). It sounded a lot like air freshener, or Febreeze, or silly string, or PEPPER SPRAY (we keep a can on site for the night clerks). It took us a while to figure out what was going on. Well, it took us right up until Jordan screamed "Pepper Spay!" Like any loving mother and father would, Ashley and I faaaaaareeeeeaaaaaaked (emphasis added) out. I do not remember how I got behind the front desk to the back office but Ashley pointed out that I got there faster than she did and she was already behind he desk. Obviously Boston was in some major discomfort. He had no idea what was going on or what was causing this intense burning in his mouth and nose. Amidst the screaming he kept trying to wipe his tongue with his hands (which were bathed in mace). Thankfully he did not get any in his eyes. I, on the other hand was not so lucky. The dry heaving and pepper spray caused my eyes to water and being the genious that I am, I wiped them with my hands.

The lobby was like a scene straight out of "Saving Private Ryan" (clean flicks version). People running every which way, coughing, crying, dry heaving, casualties (well, not really). We were able to get Boston outside and after a few minutes the burn subsided. Steve and Jordan did a stellar job under pressure to get the mess cleaned up and keep dry heaving to a minimum. After about 20 minutes with the lobby doors opened we had relieved the building of the pepper spray.

I am delighted to say that it did not take us long to laugh about the ordeal. Can't say I am anxious to relive anything remotely close to it though. So, here is my question. Think about it, blog about it, comment about it, or just plain ignore it: What would you rather do? Vomit or merely dry heave?

The Snow Came Down and the Floods Came Up

Thankfully we have two entrances into our driveway. This drift is blocking one of them.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Disfranchisement of "We the People"

When a toilet won't stop running (mine is doing that at this very moment) you shake the handle until it stops. If a tooth has a cavity you go to the dentist and get it fixed (and then pay him/her a lot of money).

It is my belief that our election process (oh, and what a process it is) is kaput. I will even go as far as to say that the process is disfranchising "We the People." This is not the type of disfrachisment that by law prohibits indivudials from voting due to criminal conviction. No, this type of disfranchisement does not take away our right to vote at all. This type of disfranchisement takes away the right for our vote to be meaningful. When I say meaningful, I mean well-informed and consequential. The vote should mean more than "I like that dude" or "She is a chick, I will vote for her."

Here are a few of many reasons why:

1) The current media situation: How can America choose their next president when the majority of the information presented to them is offered in a similar way Entertainment Tonight covers celebrity gossip (which I absolutely loathe). I also have a difficult time beleiving that the media is "fair and balanced" as they boast.

2)The primary debates (or any debate): There a a few moments of light in these debates but they are few and far between. As I watched most of the recent debates (Democratic and Republican) I tried to do so with an open mind. I attempted to see what all had to offer but I found it very difficult to ever come to a conclusion about any of the candidates, even those that I had already preconceived notions (good or bad) about. I wondered how in the Sam Hill (who is this Sam guy by the way) could the undecided average American ever come to a well-informed conclusion. They likely couldn't. So they go back to the "likeability" factor. "He made the funniest jokes, I will vote for him," or "He talked about Jesus, I will pull the lever for him." Oh, and after every debate the representatives for each candidate declares that their candidate won the debate and rightfuly so.

3) The process itself: Now, I do not understand a lot of things. Especially those things that are not understandable. Who decided that Iowa and New Hampshire should go first? Who decided that Texas (a super big state) does not participate in super Tuesday? Who decides how many delegates go to each state? Who decides that some states are "winner takes all" states? Who decides that some of the Democratic caucus states (Michigan for example) award zero delegates to the winner when America Samoa (UHHHH?) award delagates to it's winner? This is not right. The toilet is running over.

4) Celebrities: Chuck Norris..... please! Why should I vote for somebody because they are endorsed by a celebrity? Celebrities are so out of sync with reality and the real America that if they were do endorse a candidate that should be a great reason NOT to vote for their candidate. Unfortunately, that is not the perspective of the rest of us.

5) Shenanigans: (See previous blog entitled "Son of a "Bee") Shortly after blogging about my baptist friend I found out that the reason Huckabee won West Virginia was that "Juan" Mcain (knowing that he had no chance) had encouraged his supporters to throw their votes the way of the former evangelical minister. They did. By doing so they gave the delegates (18 I believe) to Huckabee. How mad would that make you if you were a West Virginain voting for Romney? If that does not discourage a person from voting I don't know what would. If I were Huckabee I would feel a little embarassed about this one. He did give a great victory speach afterwards though.

It is reasons like these that I (and many others) feel disfranchised. So, here is my question to you. What would you do to fix these issues. A "winner takes all" decathalon? An election where every single person votes (not caucuses) on the same day? A one time event where each candidate on both sides are hooked up to the lie detector test and asked about the issues? Blog about it and entitle it "We the People".

Son of a "Bee"

Huckabee...... More like son of a "bee." The Arkansas gonverner has really done it. By "stealing" the 18 delegates in West Virginia, son of a "bee" has given Juan Mcain a win. To make matters worse his victory in W. Va. was a slim one. The tone has been set for the rest of the day. I think that the election should be decided by the poll that I have had on this blog which gives Romney a slight lead over "your mom". Happy super liberal Tuesday friends.
Stay tuned for: The Disenfranchisement of "We the People"

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Prophet in Jamaica

Here is my tribute. There are two men that I have never "personally" met yet they have had an extremely personal affect on my life thus far. The Lord Jesus Christ and President Gordon B. Hinkley.

While serving as a missionary in Jamaica President Hinkley visited the island on his way to dedicate a temple in Brazil. All of the missionaries and membership of the church and many others gathered to an outdoor amphitheatre in Kingston. This was the first time that a prophet of God had set foot on the island. Sister Hinkley, President Faust, and President Hinkley all spoke to the congregation in that order. Towards the end of President Faust's address I looked up at President Hinkley as he sit on the stage. His eyes were closed, his head was bowed, and he was mouthing the words of a prayer to Heavenly Father. I will in no way ever forget that sight and the feeling that came over me as I watch a prophet speak to his Heavenly Father. I suppose that he was petitioning with the Lord for the nation and it's people and asking for inspiration as to what these people needed to hear.

As missionaries we had an idea of what issues the Jamaicans face personally and as a nation. When President Hinkley spoke to the congregation and he addressed all of those issues and gave counsel that we knew our people needed to hear. President Hinkley is absolutely a prophet of God. He spoke to Him and for Him that day.