Saturday, May 2, 2009

Paralysis Pear

One morning during the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college I woke up and followed my routine like every other morning. I stumbled out of bed and headed straight to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face. As I washed my face I noticed that I kept getting soap in my eye. This seemed strange - face washing isn't the most complicated of activities and I couldn't believe that I was messing it up. I looked in the mirror after I was done and noticed that my left eye seemed to be a little droopy. I called my mom and explained to her the weird occurrence. She suggested that I must be over-tired and should get some more rest. I laid on the couch in the dark for the next few hours and watched TV. As my roommates arrived home for the day from their summer classes I was excited to have some company. I jumped up from the couch to greet them. When they walked through the door my welcome was returned with looks of horror from the both of them. I knew immediately something was wrong. They hurried toward me and asked what had happened to my face. Not sure of the answer, I ran into the bathroom to get a look at what they had seen. The entire left side of my face was drooping; I looked as if I had suffered a stroke. I called my mom back and told her of the negative progress. She recommended I see the doctor as soon as possible.

I made an emergency appointment at the campus infirmary and headed right over. When I walked into the building the nurses seemed concerned. Their reactions did little to calm my nerves. At this point I was sure I had suffered a stroke. I wasn't aware of any other disease associated with facial paralysis and I was convinced I was experiencing facial paralysis. The not- -so-subtle nurses settled me into the tiny exam room to wait anxiously for the doctor. Shortly after he entered the room and introduced himself he started to make some strange requests. He wanted me to stick out my tongue and raise my eyebrows. I complied and after performing these two silly acts he stated very matter of fact that I had Bell's Palsy. "What? Come again? I have what?", I retorted. He explained that Bell's palsy is a paralysis of cranial nerve VII (the facial nerve) resulting in inability to control facial muscles on the affected side. There is no known specific cause, recovery is spontaneous and the effect of treatment is controversial. GREAT! I was a 19 year-old college female with half of a paralyzed face (Remember Sloth from The Goonies?). This would be a fabulous summer. Some people recover in as few as 10 days. Those people don't have my luck. I recovered in about 3 months and it wasn't the most exciting summer of my life - that's for sure.

The only good thing about the entire situation is that because of the palsy I now love avocados. The first day when I got back from the doctor I was embarrassed to be seen in public. My friends were having avocado salads for lunch and I was welcomed to join them. One problem - I didn't like avocado. However, when faced with the prospect of heading out to find lunch in the heavily populated college town with a paralyzed face trying avocados didn't seem so grim. I tried it and loved it and every time I eat a delicious avocado I am reminded of the terrible circumstances of how I came to know the fruit.

Creole Shrimp Salad served in Avocados
Loosely adapted from Emeril Lagasse

  • 1 (3-ounce) package Shrimp and Crab Boil in a bag, or seasoning
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • Salt
  • 1 1/4 pounds medium shrimp
  • 1/4 cup low fat/light mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Creole mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of sliced green onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 3 small Hass avocados

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil with the crab boil bag, the halved lemon, and 1 teaspoon salt. Let boil for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook at a low boil until pink, 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let sit in the water for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Drain.

When the shrimp are cool enough to handle, peel and discard the shells and heads. Using a paring knife, make a shallow slit down the center of the back of each shrimp and remove the black-gray vein. Refrigerate the shrimp until well chilled, 2 hours.

In a medium bowl, mix together the shrimp, mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, the mustard, shallots, parsley, garlic, cayenne, and a pinch of salt.

Mix to coat. Adjust the seasoning, to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (The salad can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.)

Cut each avocado in half lengthwise and remove the seed. Place the Shrimp Salad in the seed cavity and serve.


The Cooking Photographer said...

What a complicated summer that must have been! But I'm glad you fell in love with avocados, because this recipe looks very good.

Kayla said...

I had Bell's palsy in high school, totally sucked.

This looks awesome.

Kerstin said...

I love shrimp and avocado together - looks so good! So sorry you had Bell's palsy in college, that must have been very rough.

Allison said...

This may be my new favorite recipe! Avocados have been top on my list of things to eat during this pregnancy! I eat them with EVERYTHING!!

Anonymous said...

As one of your roommates in college I can vouch for you being a wonderfully spirited Sloth!! We had a lot of laughs at your face's expense but it was worth it for he love of avocado's!! Allison- pregnancy has me obsessed with avocado's also- I still eat them almost everyday.....more avocado recipes please! xoxo lou

MaryBeth said...

What a wonderful recipe, very simple and elegant. I love your presentation!

Esi said...

This looks so good! I love the presentation.

teresa said...

Oh wow, what a thing to go through, that must have been so scary. I've had a few friends that have dealt with that too.

This looks SOO good! I love shrimp and avacado.

alice said...

Looks awesome. I make a salad using shrimp and avocado that I love. I would like to try making this though.. I'm going to pick up some shrimp later this week!

Rex said...

Those shrimp look awesome. Your photos are great!

Krista said...

Yummy! I had a shrimp and avocado salad similar to this on vacation in Florida last month. I'd love to try your recipe. It looks so good!

Kevin said...

That shrimp looks tasty! I really like the sound of the shrimp, mayo and avocado combo!

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