Thursday, May 11, 2017

Those crocodile tears are what you cry

As when a weary traveller that strays
By muddy shore of broad seven-mouthed Nile,
Unweeting of the perilous wandering ways
Doth meet a cruel crafty crocodile,
Which in false grief hiding his harmful guile,
Doth weep full sore, and sheddeth tender tears:
The foolish man, that pities all this while
His mournful plight, is swallowed up unwares
Forgetful of his own, that minds another's cares.
                  -Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queen, 1, v, 18
Are you bend on imitating the crocodile of theNile? which, they say, mourn over the huiman heads they devour and weep over the remains of the dead --not from motives of repentance, but from regret that the head has no flesh they can eat.
      -Photius, Bibliotheka

Here's a fun thing about me: I cry when I eat.

   Not always. Probably not even most of the time. But it happens. I never really thought about it much, other than to be uncomfortable eating around other people. I would assume that it's slightly off-putting to see someone dabbing at their eye with a handkerchief while eating a meatball sub or whatever.

   Otherwise, it never really bothered me enough to look into. Until I was at an eye appointment awhile back and I mentioned it to my optometrist. She got really excited and asked me if I'd ever had Bell's Palsy. I had, I told her. "You've got crocodile tears!" she exclaimed, which I probably didn't react to as well as I could've.

   She explained that she had just attended a conference and had seem a presentation about a rare nerve disorder called Bogorad's Syndrome. for the most part, it has affected a small percentage (3.3 - 6.5%) of sufferers of Bell's Palsy and other facial paralysis. It's marked by excessive unilateral tearing as a result of gustatory stimuli. In other words, when the face heals from the paralysis, the nerve fibers headed for the salivary gland regenerate improperly and instead grow into a tear gland.

   Anyway, it seems that the most successful treatment is botox, which I'm not about to consider anytime soon. I'm happy chalking it up to God's fingerprints and continuing to wear a Phantom of the Opera-style mask when I eat. Kidding.

   Of course it's kind of funny that I get the very rare disorder from the rare symptom of Lyme Disease. Snowflake indeed.

   But at the end of the day, how many people can claim crocodile tears as a medical condition? Not many, it would appear.