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Written by a patient
28th June 2017

On Christmas Eve, one side of my face collapsed. My family sort of ignored it (out of a politeness I think; because as I soon came to realise, matters of the face are highly sensitive). So it wasn't until Boxing day that I went to A & E who thought I'd had a stroke before finally diagnosing Bells Palsy. The doctor said steroids were available but often ineffective. I was on my own in the hospital, in shock and stupidly took the doctor's advice and NOT the steroids, something I still regret. I was told to be patient and the Bells Palsy would clear up. It didn't so I went to my GP who had to google my symptoms because he wasn't familiar with BP. Again I was told to be patient. A year later, I still couldn't smile and I felt that I had lost my face, and my confidence. As tough as I tried to be, and as un-vain as I wanted to be, I was devastated. It affected every part of my life. I felt people treated me differently, definitely saw me differently, but no one would admit it or suggest anything that might help. My face not only looked weird but often felt tight and achy. I went back to my doctor to ask about botox after researching its uses with sufferers of facial palsy. My GP sent me off to various hospital consultations, where I was prodded and stared at and then told botox wouldn't help me. Desperate, I went to a London Oculoplastic Surgeon on Harley Street to see if I could pay for help. The doctor had all the MBBS, FRCS credentials but wasn't a BP specialist and she ended up injecting too much botox into my smaller BT effected eye making it much bigger than my other other. Hopeless, I stopped believing there was help out there and thought I just needed to accept that I had lost my looks over night and that I now hated my face. Writing that I hated my face is dramatic but true. Then two years later, after feeling particularly low about my face, I decided to do some more research and not stop until I found help. I remember thinking surely in the 21st century there had to be someone who specialised in Bells Palsy. I found William Townley's East Grinstead Clinic. I immediately rang my GP to get a referral but he said I probably wouldn't get one because I didn't live in the area and it would cost too much. I was livid with my GP but so determined to get that referral that I insisted we try. Whilst waiting for my referral (thinking I wouldn't get it), I kept researching, and stumbled across Dr Townley in Harley Street. I was super wary of Harley Street now, but super impressed with what I had read about Dr Townley's knowledge, care and expertise of BP. I went to meet him and he said he could definitely help me. He said all the right things and after hearing all the wrong things for so long, I burst out crying right in front of him, in sheer relief of finding someone I could finally trust. Eventually my referral did come through and interestingly, the East Grinstead Clinic was Dr Townley's Clinic. Since that meeting with Bill Townley I have received physiotherapy, counselling, botox and had minor surgery. Words can't actually do justice to how much Dr Townley and his team have helped me. And if I can offer any advice, it would be to never give up looking for that help, even if you are told nothing can be done, because the specialists and experts like Dr Townley are out there and I have definitely been helped.

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