Trinity-Spadina MP Olivia Chow is being treated for Ramsay Hunt syndrome type two after waking up with discomfort in the left side of her face over the holidays.
The illness is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox and shingles and can cause facial paralysis and hearing loss, though complete recovery is more likely when it is treated quickly.
“Similar to Bell’s palsy, one of the symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome is a temporary disorder of the nerve that controls movement of the muscles in the face,” Chow said in a statement on Friday, Jan. 4. “In my case, it has affected the left side of my face making it difficult to smile, laugh and put in my contact lens.”
Fortunately for Chow, she received prompt treatment and is now suffering only from facial weakness. She said it could take months or even longer for the nerves on the left side of her face to recover fully.
Despite the scare, she vowed to continue to fight for what she believes in in Parliament.
“It will not affect my work as a Member of Parliament. I continue to swim, run, and bike regularly. You will just have to imagine that I am smiling,” she said.
Chow added that she will continue to stump for greater investment in transit and infrastructure when the upcoming federal budget is tabled.
She will update her condition at a media conference set for 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 4 on Augusta Avenue.