He’s been criticized for not smiling at times when most people would grin broadly. A writer called him “Mumbles” for not articulating certain words. Another commentator said he talked out of the side of his face. Now, Republican candidate for governor Tom Foley is revealing why he has trouble doing what many of us take for granted. He suffers from Bell’s Palsy.
In an exclusive interview with Channel 3 Eyewitness News, Foley shared his battle with an affliction he’s been dealing with for 16 years. In 1994 the then 42 year old woke up one morning and couldn’t move the right side of his face. A neurologist made the diagnosis and treated him with cortizone. It helped, but the Bell’s Palsy didn’t go away.
According to Dr. Peter Wade at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, most Bell’s Palsy patients fully recover: 90% will make a 90% within 3 to 6 months. Foley falls in the 10% of patients who may have it forever.
For the first year, Foley couldn’t blink his right eye. In the first 5 to 6 years, Foley told me he saw tremendous improvement. He could feel muscles in his face and feel nerves coming back to life. Then the progress stopped without explanation.
Bell’s Palsy is uncommon, and can strike anyone at anytime. It also happens quickly.
Foley doesn’t consider himself a victim and decided to go public with his Bell’s Palsy only recently. It had come to Foley’s attention that some people on the campaign trail were asking questions about why he “wasn’t smiling,” or why “one eye was open wider than the other,” and so forth. Due to the paralysis, he also has difficulty articulating certain words, particularly words with the letters “m” and “p.”
Bottom line is he can’t control the right side of his face. Still, Foley has a sense of humor about it. “I can’t whistle, and it drives me crazy,” Foley told me.
Here is the interview with Foley: http://www.wfsb.com/video/25033625/index.html