Olivia Chow suffers with complications from shingles

The Canadian Press
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NDP MP Olivia Chow visited Halifax in August.

TORONTO — Toronto NDP MP Olivia Chow says she's been diagnosed with a condition that could temporarily prevent her from making certain facial expressions.

Jack Layton's widow says she saw her doctor over the holidays after waking up with some discomfort on the left side of her face.

Chow says she was told she has Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which occurs when the shingles virus affects the facial nerve near the ear.

As a result, Chow says she is having trouble smiling, laughing and putting in her contact lens on that side.

But she stresses the condition in no way affects her work as a member of Parliament, adding people will "just have to imagine that I am smiling."

"While I may have some difficulty smiling for a while, I will continue to work hard and have fun." Olivia Chow

Shingles is caused by the chickenpox virus, which remains dormant in the body and can become active again. In addition to a painful rash, it can lead to long-term nerve pain.

In the case of Ramsay Hunt syndrome, it can also cause permanent facial muscle weakness and deafness.

"I am learning to be patient as it will take time for my left facial nerves to fully recover. It could take weeks, months or longer," Chow said in a statement.

"Overcoming challenges and adversity is something I have always done. This is no different. While I may have some difficulty smiling for a while, I will continue to work hard and have fun."

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  • Old Timer
    January 05, 2013 - 09:50

    Shingles a very terrible condition. It strikes seniors. Yes it is dormant in your body and the cause is having suffered from chicken pox when you were young. Did you know that there is a vaccine for it. Ah but alast we live on PEI when I ask my Doctor's Adim Staff to book an appointment to get the vaccine I was told I would be put on a waiting list. When I ask why I was told because it was not always available on PEI and it could take a long time. Well I do not like to wait to get sick. So if you are a senior on the Island I urge you to contact Health Canada, Provincial Healh and your Fed MLA and your Provincial MLA and ask why we can not get this vaccine. Why should we here on the Island not be provided with this vaccine when we want it. Canada provides vaccines to third world countrys but can not provide for their own citrizens? You would think that it would be available all the time. Imagine the money the Province could save with a simple vaccine. For your Health people and especially for seniors because it strikes seniors very hard. Contact Health Canada and the Provincial Health let's not be a third world country when it comes to vaccines. Let's find out what is going on I know I am. Now with the politician Olivia Chow suffering from it we maybe able to get help . Folks just ask why