Bernadette Sembrano shares Bell's Palsy story

Posted at 07/17/2011 6:02 PM | Updated as of 07/19/2011 2:39 PM
Broadcast journalist Bernadette Sembrano has Bell's Palsy and continues to undergo therapy.

MANILA, Philippines - It was a hot Friday afternoon in Davao, and broadcast journalist Bernadette Sembrano was in an air-conditioned car.

Two days later, she had sensitive hearing, and had difficulty controlling the movement of her eyelids.

She was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy.

"Linggo ng umaga...parang sabi ko malakas ata 'yung earphones ko kasi sumasakit 'yung tenga ko edi binalewala ko lang baka masyado lang malakas. And then during 'TV Patrol' that night sabi ko parang may mali sa mata ko sa kaliwa, twitch nang twitch. Pinikit ko lang during commercial para ipahinga 'yung mata," Sembrano said in a taped interview aired on ABS-CBN's weekend health program "Salamat Dok," where she is a host.

She continued, "Sabi ko, 'Dok feeling ko I have Bell's Palsy.' Pag-iyak ko isang part ng mukha ko lang kumulubot...so sabi ko mukhang Bell's Palsy na nga."

Bell's Palsy is a form of facial paralysis named after Scottish surgeon, anatomist and neurologist Charles Bell. Dr. Emmanuel Eduardo, director of St Luke's International Institute for Neurosciences, said this is a benign condition.

"Hindi po ito serious and gumagaling sila nang kusa kadalasan. Kailangan lang i-therapy," Eduardo told Sembrano in an interview on "Salamat Dok."

It is usually caused by a virus or an infection, he said. Symptoms include watering or dryness in one eye, sensitive hearing in one ear, pain at the back of one ear or around the jaw and trouble tasting at the back of the tongue or the affected side.

Some of the celebrities who were previously diagnosed with Bell's Palsy include George Clooney, Pierce Brosnan and Sylvester Stallone.

Unlike stroke, Bell's Palsy only affects a person's face.

"Sa stroke hindi lang mukha kadalasan. Very rare ang stroke na mukha lang ang affected. Pati ang face, ang arm at leg ng same side. Minsan sa opposite side," Eduardo said.

Treatment

Right after her check-up, Sembrano underwent therapy and medical treatment.

She also took steroids and B-Complex vitamins to help nourish her facial nerves, and made extra effort to move her face by drinking from a straw more frequently and raising her eyebrows.

Asked about her personal experience with Bell's Palsy, Sembrano said, "Ang laki-laki ng mundo, alam mo yun? Ang dami-daming problema ng ibang tao at eto lang ang pinagdadaanan ko. Buti nga ito lang. And it could have been much worse, diba? Masarap sa pakiramdam ang napagdaanan ko dahil marami kang maiisip, marami kang realizations pero alam mong sandali lang na hindi naman pala magtatagal at salamat sa Diyos na hindi naman nagtagal."

She added, "Happy ako na I went through this phase kasi sa dami ng mga pasyenteng nakakahalubilo natin [sa 'Salamat Dok']. Iba rin talaga 'yung nararamdaman mo 'yung nararamdaman nila."

Sembrano also thanked her family, friends and supporters as she slowly recovers from facial paralysis.

"Maraming salamat sa mga nagpadala ng messages of concern sa text, sa Facebook, sa Twitter, sa ABS-CBN call center partikular na kay Ms. Merceditas Carandang ng San Pedro, Laguna. Sa lahat ng doktor, family, thank you very much," she said.

Eduardo commended Sembrano for her efforts, saying that therapy and facial exercises help Bell's Palsy patients recover faster.

"As long as you keep the nerve working, there's a big chance na maaga ang paggaling," he said.

Meanwhile, other ways to help treat Bell's Palsy include acupuncture and eating food items rich in copper such as whole grains, beans, nuts, potatoes, vegetables and dried fruits such as prunes.