Earlier that night, while eating dinner with a friend, I was swishing water in my mouth trying to dislodge an errant fragment of roast pork from my teeth, and I splurted water down my shirt. I thought nothing of it, as I’m often a messy eater. But later that night, while rinsing my mouth after brushing my teeth, the same thing happened. It felt like a cheap gag from a comedy in which a character has just had dental surgery and is still experiencing the after-effects of novocaine. But I was not laughing. I was afraid. I looked in the mirror and opened my mouth wide, but the right side didn’t open. I wrinkled my forehead, but the right side remained smooth. I scrunched up my eyes, but my right eye wouldn’t close. With each motion—or lack thereof—my fear increased. The right side of my face was paralyzed.