Some of you may know that Mia and I temporarily relocated to Los Angeles to work on her charitable giving project with celebrities. I was also using the time to prepare to launch my speaking and TV commentating career. I was working on my new website, meeting with brand managers and speakers bureaus, and honing my content.
Things were going good, but a few weeks ago I started having pain in the right side of my head and neck right below my right ear. This pain persisted for 3-4 days but I thought it was just due to the hotel bed. However, two weeks ago I woke up and the right side of my face was partially paralyzed, my tongue was numb, my speech slightly impaired and the pain had increased substantially. I thought I was having a stroke! We rushed to the hospital. I spent all day in the ER at Los Angeles Cedar Sinai Hospital getting tests run, including MRIs.
NO STROKE (Thank GOD!), but I was diagnosed with something I had never heard of called “Bells Palsy” Ironically, I saw on the news that Baylor’s Women’s Basketball Coach got diagnosed with the same thing right before the final four.
They don’t know what exactly causes Bells Palsy but the symptoms usually last between 6 weeks to 6 months. I am constantly tired and fatigue really easily. Additionally, talking is actually somewhat of a chore (for those that really know me, you know I don’t like that at all- lol!) Also, as the feeling and movement comes back to my face, it is accompanied by some pain. Sometimes the pain is just dull and sensitive to the touch and at other times the pain is intense. The worse though is looking in the mirror at my crocked smile and lazy eye, and hoping that everything goes back to normal.
Clearly this has impacted our trip here in Los Angeles as we had to cancel or cut short several engagements. It also, has caused me to have to cancel an upcoming presentation scheduled for April 19, 2012 at a major conference at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Most of all, I have not been to write as planned or take part in the important conversation regarding race, justice, and equality that has erupted due to the Trayvon Martin murder in the frequency or manner that I would like. Yet, this experience has made one thing clear: the reality is nothing else really matters, if you are not healthy.
However, I feel so blessed to report that through prayer, access to good medical services, and the nursing of Mia, I am improving tremendously. So, while I may have to take it easy for a little while and focus on getting full movement back in my face. I fully expect to back to 100% very soon.
In closing, this temporary set-back been a wake-up call and has prompted me to reevaluate everything to ensure that I am intentionally living my best life today and working to inform, inspire, and empower others. This has also showed me that you can have the best laid plans, with the best intentions. Yet, sometimes things outside of your control can change those plans. It is during these times that you have to continue to have faith, vision, and determination. In other words, life is life and I encourage you to start living it intentionally and passionaltely today!
Damario Solomon-Simmons, M.E.d., J.D., is the managing partner of SolomonSimmonSharrock & Associates law firm and an adjunct professor of African & African-American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. His life’s mission is to inform, inspire, and empower and can be contacted at email@example.com or @solospeakstruth.