A Southampton woman has told of the difficulty in losing control of her face for more than three years after being rushed to hospital in 2020.

Verity Connor, 42, was treated for a suspected stroke in November 2020 but was later diagnosed as having Bell’s palsy.

It is a condition where the facial nerve is inflamed leaving the person struggling to speak, eat, drink, close the eye and smile.

Verity has shared her experience after being given zero guidance from her GP on how to manage the condition.

She said: “I was given a course of steroids and a leaflet on how to tape my eye down at night to prevent it drying out, but that was it.

“No follow-up was arranged by my GP; I was just told to contact them in three months if there was no improvement.”

Daily Echo: Verity has criticised her GP not providing enough informationThe condition will be resolved for about 72 per cent of patients, but this still leaves a significant number needing further treatment and support.

Verity added: “When my eye became really sore I contacted my GP but they just referred me to a high-street optician.

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“So, I turned to the internet - taking advice from people I had never met seemed to be my only option and it was here that acupuncture was recommended."

After a month of no facial movement at all, Verity’s GP agreed to refer her to an NHS clinic and a private clinic as she had health insurance.

Verity said: “Fortunately, the private referral led me to Chrissy Bibby, a Specialist Facial Therapist at Hobbs Rehabilitation in Winchester.

“It was the first time I met someone who was knowledgeable about Bell’s palsy and genuinely cared about my progress.

“It was then I found out that synkinesis doesn’t go away, you have to try and retrain your brain to tell your face to work how it should.

Verity still struggles with Bell’s palsy but is now new surgery called selective neurolysis which could help.

Dr Simon Lowe, Member of Facial Palsy UK Medical Advisory Board says: “There is a common misconception amongst GPs that patients with acute onset facial palsy will nearly always recover.

“There is an urgent need for clinicians to recognise this and invest in this condition.”