A young woman has spoken up about the condition which led her to hide away as she helps spread the word about the impact it can have.
Chelsea Jeffery was born with facial palsy affecting the right side of her face, which causes her eyes to water and affects her hearing.
The 22-year-old, from the Clavering area of the town, was bullied at school and opted to go into catering, giving her the chance to hide away in a kitchen.
But now she is working as a team leader in three of Hartlepool’s Subways after she decided she would no longer avoid the public eye.
Chelsea has also been referred by her doctor for botox treatment through the NHS.
She has now spoken of her difficulties as she helps to break down barriers and prejudices during Facial Palsy Awareness Week.
I became quite shy, I never really approached anybody and that’s why I went into catering and the kitchen, so I didn’t have to see anybody.Chelsea Jeffery
She said: “It stopped me from doing anything, but I went to college and got my NVQ in catering to be a chef and I’ve done the job for two years non-stop.
“My family didn’t speak about it.
“I became quite shy, I never really approached anybody and that’s why I went into catering and the kitchen, so I didn’t have to see anybody.
“But I really wanted this job and I love working with the customers all the time and they don’t judge.”
Chelsea serves in the chain’s Belle Vue, York Road and Middleton Grange shops.
Facial Palsy Awareness Week runs until Monday, March 7, more details can be found via www.facialpalsy.org.uk.
Facial palsy can refer to a weakness of the muscles which can be caused by temporary or permanent damage to the nerves.
When a nerve is either not working, the muscles in the face do not receive the signals needed to function, which leads to paralysis of parts of the face and affect the movement of the eyes or mouth.
Sometimes only the lower half of the face is affected, sometimes one whole side of the face is affected and in some cases both sides of the face are affected.
Branches of nerves supply the muscles which are used for facial expression, as well as tears, saliva production and taste.
The most commonly known cause of facial paralysis is Bell’s palsy, which is based by a viral infection, as is Ramsey Hunt syndrome, there are actually many different causes of facial palsy, and treatment and prognosis vary greatly depending on the cause. Some of the main causes of facial palsy are listed below:
Causes can also include surgical issues, bacteria such as Lyme disease or following a middle ear infection, neurological conditions, a traumatic injury such as a fracture, or a trauma during birth, such as damaged caused by forceps and can also be a congenital condition, where there is abnormal development of the facial nerves or muscle in the womb.
There are different levels of nerve injury, setting out how long recovery can take or if it permanent.