I Know You’re Wondering—I Didn’t Have a Stroke!
This morning as I was reviewing the key words that you, my readers, are using to search for information about my TV show and blog, I gulped when I realized that within the top 20 search terms were these words: Nancy Zieman Face, Nancy Zieman Stroke, and Sewing with Nancy Stroke. I certainly haven’t kept my paralysis a secret; after all, I wear it! Yet, many of you still wonder. So, I decided to explain my paralysis. It’s just one of the unique features that makes me–me!
Smile, You’re on Sewing With Nancy
Perhaps the question that most of you want to ask me, but are afraid to do so, has nothing to do with fabric and thread. The topic—my face! Obviously, I’m not symmetrical. My eye and mouth on my right side have a partial paralysis called Bell’s Palsy—it happened (due to an ear infection) when I was a toddler; I was just over one year old.
During the 1950’s the treatment was to wait it out—it will get better. A high percentage of people recover from this paralysis. I wasn’t so lucky. As a child I was extremely self-conscious, my mom most recently told me that she prayed that I wouldn’t become introverted. Her prayers were answered.
Not being the cheerleader or prom court type—that was the ultimate goal in high school, I turned to creating with fabric and thread. Winning a ribbon at the county fair or a prize through the Make It Yourself with Wool contest, required skill not looks. Sewing became my outlet, passion, and eventual career.
The path between 4-H sewing and producing/hosting Sewing With Nancy is very convoluted. It has taken me through many turns, detours, and interesting byways. I’ve learned to realize that what I teach and how I teach via TV and DVD is what you’re most interested in seeing.
Being a public figure with a facial paralysis has prompted many people to write and ask questions when a friend or loved-one is stricken with a comparable paralysis. Sometime I kiddingly say to my staff that I’m the Bell’s Palsy Poster Child. I’m happy to hold this self-imposed job.
One of my suggestions when contacted by a viewer is to contact a Neuromuscular Retraining Clinic; I went through retraining treatments in the 90’s. Since I’m not qualified to give medical advice—isn’t that a good thing—I recently invited Dr. Justin Sattin, Neurologist and Medical Director of the UW Health Comprehensive Stroke Program, to be my guest for a Nancy’s Corner segment on Sewing With Nancy. Dr. Sattin explained the differences between the onset of a stroke and Bell’s Palsy, plus treatment options which DO NOT include the wait it out—it will get better treatment of the 50’s. If you have any paralysis symptoms, call your doctor immediately!
You can watch the interview at the end of the program of Landscape Quilting Workshop DVD and TV show (program #2417). Wisconsin newspapers also featured tidbits of my interview with Dr. Sattin. Here’s a link to the newspaper interview written by Jane Burns.
The reason for sharing this information is to answer a question, pass along information, and give encouragement. A letter written many years ago, that I’ve kept when I question whether or not I should be on TV, reads as follows:
Dear Nancy, This has nothing to do with sewing but about your inspiration to me while I was recovering from an operation. I had a weakness on the left side of my face and my mouth badly drooped. So your face was the first one I imagined and for the whole six days I was in the hospital I kept saying, “If Nancy can do it, so can I.”
When we’re taping Sewing With Nancy, the floor director counts me into each segment by saying, “Take a deep breath and smile.” I give you the best smile I can. After all, most of us deal with one issue or even two—I just happen to wear mine!
Nancy’s Autobiography—Seams Unlikely
Bye for now,