Have you ever taken your smile for granted?

It seems like something so minor. I can tell you that I have, but it was never intentional. I was always proud of the dimple that I had on the left side near my mouth.

Dimples have a way of adding character to your smile. They serve as that conversation piece especially when you are little. Adults eat it up like their favorite ice cream.

What do you do when you find out you can’t smile the way that you used to?

Let me share my story with you. For me to do that I must take you back, way back to February of 2000. I was close to my final month of pregnancy with my second son. I remember craving a pickle.

What pregnant woman has ever not craved a pickle right?

I found it odd that I couldn’t taste it. I didn’t experience that tang that you get and makes you pucker up your lips and all. It was bland. That was my first clue.

When I couldn’t close my left eye completely and I noticed my mouth drooping I knew something was very off. Luckily for me my husband told me he thought I had Bell’s Palsy. I thought I had gone through stroke symptoms.

Now what?

I went to see my OB/GYN doctor and he confirmed it. He let me know that because I was pregnant I couldn’t undergo the traditional form of treatment with Prednisone and antibiotics. He reassured me that most people recovered in a month.

Well they almost never tell you about the select few that don’t recover completely. There are people who don’t and they suffer residual effects. That being one normal side and one not so normal side.

In my case I was left with a whole new look. Big dimpling on my chin. I called it my John Travolta dimple. Looked great on him, but on me not so much.

What else happens?

I couldn’t whistle anymore. Not that I did that daily or blow up a balloon. Raising my left eyebrow was close to impossible.

Doesn’t sound so bad does it?

Not smiling like I used to do was the breaking point for me. It meant not being able to take family or individual pictures like I had always done. This brought on self-esteem issues and lowered my confidence.

I used to take these kind of pics. I would never force a smile.
I used to take these kind of pics. I would never force a smile.

The great news is that my son was born with no complications whatsoever. That made me extremely happy. There’s always something to be thankful for despite your circumstances.

But how do you bounce back to how you used to be?

The first thing I did when I reached my final breaking point in the late Spring of 2014 was to do some internet research. I looked up news on any advanced treatments. You name it I looked for it.

Fourteen years with the after effects of Bell’s Palsy is a long time, isn’t it?

It came at a very sensitive time in my life too. I felt like maybe my husband didn’t find me as attractive as I used to be. I started comparing myself to other people. When you resort to wallowing in self-pity it tends to stir up all kinds of emotions.

Is it normal to have these types of feelings?

Absolutely! Especially as a woman. I did the next best thing and found an amazing plastic surgeon. Dr. Jonathan Kulbersh in Charlotte, NC. https://carolinafacialplasticsurgery.com/

What compelled me to get a consultation?

I was impressed because he had trained with two of the most prominent facial surgeons: Dr. Azzizadeh and also Dr. Paul Nassif of Botched, the TV Series. Dr. Azzizadeh has been featured on Oprah for performing the facial reconstructive surgery for Mary Jo Buttafuoco. https://www.facialparalysisinstitute.com/media/mary-jos-story/

Have you ever wanted to improve or enhance a part of you?

After seeing the before and after pictures on the website I knew I had to get a consultation. It was Memorial Day of 2014 and I made the 2.5-hour drive to Charlotte, NC. It was by miracle and divine intervention that the office of Carolina Facial Plastic Surgery was open on a holiday when I made my appointment.

I immediately knew after I spoke with Dr. Kulbersh that his plan of Botox/Dysport treatment was for me. I was nervous and excited at the same time. I did it on the faith of what I had researched.

Does it help when you have a super nice doctor and staff?

Yes! Guess what happened because of my treatment? I got the old me back! Dr. Kulbersh brought balance back to my face. No more weird smile or funny looking chin.

The return of confident Lucy. In my case I went in to regain symmetry with my facial features versus going in to get rid of wrinkles. I’m totally fine with aging gracefully though.

For those people that go in to feel more youthful and undergo plastic surgery procedures I think it’s great. Mine was a non-invasive procedure. Do whatever is the best thing for you and how it makes you feel.

How does regaining your confidence change your life?

I can smile again without feeling weird about it or self-conscious. I took up fitness and Archery as a sport. I finally decided to continue chasing my dream as a writer. It had been on on a hiatus way too long.

This summer I was finally able to take pictures that made me feel beautiful again. Let me tell you that is a Big Deal for me. I got to laugh again without hiding the true me.

Photo shoot moment with a beautiful butterfly.
Photo shoot moment with a beautiful butterfly.

Did I mention I have been in commercials too?

The first one I did was for Durham Public Schools for their Countdown to Kindergarten in English and in Spanish. The second was for Dr. Kulbersh in 2015.

I told Dr. Kulbersh that he gives a patient way more than a procedure. What he gave me I am forever grateful for. I would not be where I am today had I not gone there.

Is it possible for a traumatic event to propel you forward?

It certainly is my friends. It made me stronger, more resilient and more thankful for the incredible blessings because of it. It has been life changing!

Love my compound bow PSE Stinger Stilleto!
Love my compound bow PSE Stinger Stilleto!

What advice can I give you?

If you want to do something that makes you feel better about yourself go for it! I know I’m in a way better place with my journey.

What I have discovered is that we all have the choice to feel sorry for ourselves when the going gets tough. However, we also have the choice of doing something positive about it.

Isn’t your well-being and happiness worth it?

I know for me the answer is a definite yes!