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‘I haven’t smiled in some time—here’s why’: Martine Ho opens up about her battle with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

By Hannah Mallorca Published Oct 10, 2021 8:09 pm Updated Oct 10, 2021 8:26 pm

It’s unfair to judge someone who doesn’t smile often. Sunnies Face and Sunnies co-founder Martine Ho—who was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome—is a clear example of why. 

Ho revealed on Instagram Stories that she was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome which rendered the left side of her face paralyzed. She was diagnosed in 2020, the “morning before my planned Caesarian birth to Penelope.”

“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 chickenpox),” she said, looking back on her diagnosis. 

According to Ho, the virus “can still live in your nerves when you have chickenpox as a kid. “[It then] comes back to haunt you as an adult when your immune system is weakened (i.e. during pregnancy or stressful times, which pretty much summed up my 2020). In my case, the virus attacked my facial nerve causing paralysis,” she shared.

Sharing snapshots of her hospital visit and treatment, Ho admitted that she "avoided taking photos or being on video calls after her diagnosis."

She also added: “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. I am part of that unlucky bunch."

Even if Ho was told she can’t have the “same facial mobility,” she’s not “ashamed” of her experiences since it taught her “what really matters in this life.”

The 34-year-old entrepreneur is also the creative director of Sunnies Studios, Sunnies Face, and Sunnies Cafe. The companies specialize in selling stylish eyewear, makeup products, and comfy eats.