Radio girl Anita Raey: I couldn’t eat…my tongue went numb
Former Radio Jambo presenter Anita Raey has opened up about living with Bell’s Palsy.
Bell’s Palsy, a condition that strikes without warning, left her grappling with adversity and uncertainty. In an interview with Massawe Japanni, Anita Raey courageously shared her extraordinary story of resilience and recovery.
Anita’s ordeal began innocuously during a work trip to Kilifi in July 2023.
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She recounts, “I was in Kilifi where I worked with an NGO when the ailment started. When I came back to Nairobi, I was shivering despite being wrapped in two sweaters and a duvet. I complained to my cousin about not feeling well. That weekend was plagued by a relentless headache, and by Monday, I was still feeling dreadful. A doctor prescribed some medication, and another diagnosed it as a flu. However, by Thursday, I had a fever, and the pain was unbearable.”
Desperation finally drove Anita to seek medical help. “We went to the hospital, and the doctor had to take my blood levels six times. He was astonished that I had brought myself to the hospital. They initially attributed my condition to a reaction from the cream I had applied on a pimple wound. That day marked the first time I had slept in seven days. Strangely, they thought I had a viral infection, and, surprisingly, I started to improve,” she revealed.
But the relief was short-lived. Anita noticed alarming changes in her condition. “I realized I couldn’t close my right eye, and even drinking with a straw became impossible. The next morning, I woke up to a face sagging on one side. I couldn’t speak; I had to text my sister despite being in the same house. After calling my doctor, I decided to wait until I reached Mombasa to take the necessary tests, as I thought it wasn’t a serious matter. The pain during the journey was excruciating; it was beyond description.”
Upon reaching Mombasa, Anita was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, a condition that can lead to a stroke if left untreated. “I was taken for physiotherapy, and I cried so much, thinking I would not survive the agony. The pain, which started at 10:00 PM, only ended at 6:00 AM. It was worse than childbirth. They prescribed steroids and medications, and the doctor explained that I had Bell’s Palsy.”
Anita faced a daunting prognosis: a six-month recovery period. “I prayed and cried, bitter with God. I couldn’t eat; my tongue went numb on one side. I had to turn off my phone because I couldn’t speak or wink. Even biting was a challenge, and the pain in my ear drove me back to the hospital. I experienced a night where I was convinced I would die due to the excruciating pain.”
The path to recovery was arduous, involving therapy sessions that included balloon-blowing exercises and relearning how to chew. “At some point, I developed high blood pressure, which was terrifying. After a while, though, I began to see improvement. The entire journey spanned two grueling months.”
Reflecting on the root cause, Anita stated, “Mine was caused by my blood pressure spiking, which affected my nerves.” She has since emerged from this challenging experience with profound wisdom and resilience. In closing, she offered a heartfelt piece of advice to fellow Kenyans, “Always seek a doctor’s advice if you feel something is wrong.”