Sunday, December 6, 2009

Don’t Forget to Smile

As we age, many of us with Kennedy's Disease begin to lose some of our facial muscles. Specifically, the cheek and lip muscles begin to atrophy. One day, we find ourselves looking in the mirror and noticing we no longer have a smile. In fact, it looks more like a crooked sneer.

I saw it on my face for the first time a couple of years ago. It was not too noticeable at first, but over time, I found myself becoming more self-conscious with the sneer. Where once I thought I had a good smile, I now find myself not smiling when my picture is taken. I will grin, but that is as far as it goes.

About three months ago, I noticed that the left side of my mouth (mainly the lower lip) was drooping slightly. It is not too bad yet, but it is drooping down. I often catch myself with my mouth slightly open (my wife calls it "catching flies"). I remember my older brother whose bottom lip drooped dramatically. In my second blog post titled, "Now I am my Brother," I mentioned that as I grow older I look and act more like my brother. The drooping lip and sneer are just two more examples of the progression of the disease.

For the last few years, I have been doing face and throat exercises daily to help keep the muscles toned. The exercises seem to help, but I cannot seem to stop the progression. I never considered myself a vain person, but my discomfort with my crooked smile (sneer) is causing me to think before I smile in public. (Who thought that would happen) I guess I should be thankful that I had a good, wholesome smile for all of these years … not like some people.

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