On Saturday, October 9, Martine Ho took to Instagram Stories to reveal that she was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome—a side effect of shingles or adult chicken pox—which rendered the left side of her face paralyzed. Martine, who is the co-founder and Creative Director of both Sunnies Face and Sunnies Studios, shared that the syndrome took hold last 2020, the day before she was scheduled to give birth to her daughter Penelope. Before this recent disclosure, she had withheld the news to her followers.
"Hi Internet fam—today I’m sharing something a bit personal I’ve been privately going through since last year," she wrote. "I’ve shared so much of my life here for so many years and want to continue doing that but I guess with that comes some moments that aren’t as perfect. If you’ve wondered why I haven’t smiled in some time—here’s why."
"The morning before my planned Caesarian birth to Penelope, I woke up with the left side completely paralyzed. I was brushing my teeth and noticed the water just spilling out and that I was unable to blink. I thought I might be having a stroke actually. I rushed to the doctor and was then diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome (a.k.a. shingles/adult chicken pox."
"Apparently, when you have chicken pox as a kid, the virus can still live on in your nerves and come back to haunt you as an adult when your immune system is weakened (i.e. during pregancy or stressful times, which pretty much summed up my 2020). In my case, the virus attacked my facial nerve causing the paralysis," she wrote.
"Most Ramsay Hunt Syndrome cases have a complete recovery—and then there’s the unlucky bunch with more severe nerve damage that will never have the same motor function of their face again," she explained. "I am part of that unlucky bunch." She shared that was told to expect that she would not regain the same facial mobility as before.
Despite the immense challenges posed by her situation, Martine demonstrated an inspiring fighting spirit. "But as I plan to re-emerge back into society at some point, I’d like to do so openly and confidently and not ashamed anymore about what I’ve been through. It’s been a weird and reflective journey rebuilding my confidence and feeling comfortable looking at myself in the mirror and even being on camera again but I’m working towards that every day."
"This whole experience has taught me what really matters in this life—and that it’s being to yourself and nurturing your close relationships," she said.
Sending love to you all," she concluded.
Martine then opened a question sticker on Instagram for those who wanted to ask questions about her journey with the syndrome. Her followers were quick to send in their heartfelt messages of support for the 34-year-old entrepreneur.
Thank you for sharing your story, Martine. We wish you light and healing.
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