By Liana Jacob


THIS WOMAN says she felt like someone had PUNCHED HER IN THE FACE before waking up the following morning with HALF HER FACE PARALYSED – and doctors told her it was because of STRESS.

Nutritionist, Danielle Ferguson (29) from California, USA, began experiencing cold-like symptoms; she was very tired and lethargic but had no fever, body chills or cough. Her tongue started to feel numb and her jaw was in a lot of pain like someone had punched her.

The next morning, in August 2019, she woke up to her entire right side of her face paralysed which her nurse had warned her about the day before. Her parents drove her to the emergency room; the doctor diagnosed her with Bell’s palsy and prescribed her with an oral steroid and antivirals.

Danielle described the pain as like being ‘punched in the face’. MDWfeatures / Danielle Ferguson

The doctor attributed her condition to stress and said that there was nothing she could do which Danielle didn’t believe. She tried different alternative treatments like IV therapy, acupuncture, hyperbaric oxygen therapy and craniosacral massage.

She felt the acupuncture and craniosacral massage therapies worked for her and got her through the process of recovery.

Having half of her face paralysed caused her to shy away from strangers but finding a connection with other Instagram users who had been through a similar thing, made her more confident to embrace her journey.

With over 12,000 followers on Instagram, she is now able to share her own personal journey to raise awareness of Bell’s palsy.

Danielle pictured in front of art. MDWfeatures / Danielle Ferguson

“The week prior to my diagnosis I had felt like I was coming down with a cold. Then that Saturday I started to feel the symptoms coming on, but I didn’t know what it was at the time,” Danielle said.

“My tongue felt numb and my jaw hurt really badly; almost like someone had punched me or I was grinding my teeth all night long. Plus my smile was a bit off but nothing super noticeable.

“I woke up on Sunday to my entire right side of my face paralysed which I was told by the nurse the prior day from the minute clinic that this could happen.

Danielle pictured before her facial paralysis. MDWfeatures / Danielle Ferguson

“So, I wasn’t as shocked and afraid as I would have been if we didn’t go to the minute clinic the day before.

“My parents drove me to urgent care and the doctor said it looked like Bell’s palsy, gave me a steroid and some antivirals. He told me, ‘I’m not sure how long it will last but the majority of cases recover one-hundred per cent’.

“At first, I was shy about being around anyone other than my family, however I never really let that stop me from sharing with my IG community.

“I found once I started sharing my story, people started to tell me they either had it or knew someone who did, and it created this sort of connection.

Danielle pictured with her husband post Bell?s palsy. MDWfeatures / Danielle Ferguson

“I do still hide my smile at times when I laugh or smile big as that is when you can really tell my smile is crooked.”

Danielle was told that the condition could have been caused by stress and that she would eventually regain the strength in her muscles. She decided to research into various remedies and therapies to alleviate her symptoms.

“There was a lot going on, but I thought that was normal. I didn’t feel like I was overly stressed. However, looking back what I didn’t realise was everything I was doing or trying to do was based on my thinking I had to work hard in order to be worthy,” she said.

“That headspace I was in had to be corrected and I think me getting Bell’s palsy was my body’s way of telling me that.

Danielle pictured now showing her half smile. MDWfeatures / Danielle Ferguson

“I am still recovering, however, in the beginning, I really tried everything I could and while the doctors told me there was really nothing I could do; I frankly didn’t believe that.

“So, I tried different alternative treatments from IV Therapy to acupuncture, to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Craniosacral Massage. After each treatment, I would assess how they made me feel.

“Based on that I continued with acupuncture twice a week to this day, as well as craniosacral massage.

“I also create space every morning for myself to do my daily devotional and pray which I believe is what has kept me strong throughout this process.

Danielle pictured now with more confidence. MDWfeatures / Danielle Ferguson

“I am feeling better and starting to see movement come back into my face. However, I thought about this the other day and even if my movement never came back, it wouldn’t stop me from doing what I want to do with my life.

“I want to help others be health advocates for themselves and take back control of their own health and if that is inspiration then, yes, I want to inspire others to do this.

“I do this by simply being myself, showing up on IG and in life to pour my heart and soul into what I believe. I am Dani, my heart is my own and there’s nothing that can change that.

“Instagram has helped me see improvements with my condition and I just decided to share that with my community.

Danielle pictured showing her smile after Bell’s palsy. MDWfeatures / Danielle Ferguson

“Members of my community reached out saying they were going through the same thing and that seeing me has helped them. If I can help just one person in this world through my journey I will do it.

“I realise that self-love is how I nurture and take care of my heart and my soul. It’s not about how good I look or what my face looks like, it’s the confidence and love I have for myself inside that counts.

“Listen to your body. It will tell you what you need to heal, whether that is physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental. Trust yourself and be honest with yourself.

“Also, give yourself Grace and allow your body to rest when it needs to. Your worthiness is not based on how hard you work; how much you check off your to-do list or how perfect your house looks. You are already so worthy and so loved, just as you are.”