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Actor Chidi Mokeme Recounts Ordeals with Partial Facial Paralysis

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Nollywood star actor, Chidi Mokeme has recounted how he battled Bell’s palsy, a medical condition that causes partial facial paralysis.

Mokeme revealed that the condition led to his year-long acting hiatus.

Detailing his experience in an interview with media personality, Chude Jideonwo, the film star said he discovered he had the condition while residing in the United States.

The actor said he woke up one morning and tried to pick up his phone from his side but could not move his hands.

Mokeme said he also tried to get up from the bed but his body was not responding and his face was “drooping”.

The film star said it was at that point his wife rushed him to the hospital for treatment.

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The ‘Shanty Town’ actor said the medical practitioners had thought he had a stroke but later told him it was Bell’s palsy because “the situation presents itself without a known cause”.

“This happened as I woke up on a morning. Probably, this happened in the middle of the night. Luckily for me, I was away in the US, so I was at home. So I woke up that morning; I tried to reach my phone. The mind wants to pick up the phone, but the body is not responding. It is a very confused state.

“Because I know what I want to do now, there is a side table, pick up my phone, lay in bed, and then you are stretching. In the mind, that is what you are doing, but your body is not moving,” he said.

“So I got to turn the other way. I am like, no, something is going on. It is not the phone again. I am like, when do I need to turn like that? Then my wife comes in. And she said small ‘hi good morning. Is something wrong with you?’ You know she is in the medical field. I did not see myself lying on the bed, but my face was already halfway down here – drooping.

“Then now you cannot respond. So, what I figured out is that you have lost total control of all those facial muscles. She’s like, ‘Are you having a stroke’? The hospital was already waiting outside, of course, they thought it was a stroke and did all these tests.

“… then you must have a bell’s palsy. There is no known cause, but you end up looking like you are having a stroke. A droop on your face. Then, it focuses on your face; it takes away your ability to move those muscles on your face. Which means you cannot blink at will.

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“Of course, because there is no known cause, there is no known cure. First, we have to know what is causing it. In some cases, it will resolve itself naturally. In some cases, it stays permanent. In cases where it resolved itself, we have known patients who have waited 24 months, 36 months, and 48 months before they start seeing signs of improvement, and some people just get to live with it.

Mokeme said despite knowing that he had Bell’s palsy, he insisted on traveling to Lagos for a movie tour.

“The thing with Bell’s palsy is that it focuses on the face… I said that is not going to stop me. I am going to get up. That is what I could have told my brother if he came in. Do not let that stop you. You have to keep going. That is just a small distraction,” he said.

“And then I proved it to myself, right there in the hospital bed; I told my guy and said book my flight to Lagos. Change the ticket to tomorrow. The day after the palsy. I had to prove to myself. I left the next day. Got on the plane. This was happening in the middle of the tour for ’76.”

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