By Krista Pirtle
Baylor announced today that women’s basketball head coach Kim Mulkey has been diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy.
“Last weekend my tongue just felt weird. I thought it was an old new tube of toothpaste I had never used that kind of toothpaste before. I asked Alex at breakfast if you could be allergic to toothpaste or if it could be outdated. They just looked at me like she’s really flipped her lid.”
Instead of going to practice yesterday, she went to the doctor after being examined by trainer Alex Olson.
Bell’s Palsy is a form of facial paralysis resulting from a dysfunction of the facial nerve (cranial nerve VII) that results in the inability to control facial muscles of the affected side.
The condition usually has a rapid onset of partial or complete paralysis that often occurs overnight.
The facial nerve passes through a small canal in the skull beneath the ear.
It is thought that an inflammatory condition causes the facial nerve to swell, which leads to compression of the nerve as it passes through the canal. While the exact cause of the swelling is unknown, many physicians believe the cause may be due to a virus.
“Coach Mulkey is being treated with an anti-viral medication along with oral steroids to reduce the inflammation of the facial nerve,” Olson said. “We’re monitoring it to make sure she’s not going to have any adverse effects with the medications which we don’t expect.”
“You sure?” Mulkey yelled.
She was told that the steroids would make her irritable.
“Just blame it on the menopause and blame it on the steroids,” she joked.
Mulkey noticed her right eye was drooping, her smile was crooked and her hearing out of her right ear was a little off.
“I hadn’t had any plastic surgery so don’t let anybody say that,” Mulkey joked. “Don’t tell people I’m not happy because I’m not smiling. I’m not smiling because I don’t want people to see my crooked smile.”
Olson responded that she could pay half price for that plastic surgery.
With the diagnosis the week of the Final Four, Mulkey is confident that it will not interfere with her will to win.
“This isn’t going to change how I coach,” Mulkey said. “This isn’t going to change anything. I’m just going to be another ugly coach with a crooked face.”
The Lady Bears are two wins away from their second national championship under Mulkey and the NCAA’s first 40-win season. In the other semifinal Sunday, also featuring No. 1 seeds, Connecticut plays Notre Dame. The Lady Bears left for Denver after practice Thursday.
Baylor advanced to the Final Four, its second in three years, with a 77-58 win over Tennessee and coach Pat Summitt on Monday night.
Summitt announced in August she had early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.
It is unclear if the 59-year-old Summitt, whose 1,098 career victories are the most by any coach in NCAA basketball history, will return for a 39th season.