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
- 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.
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.