DUBLIN'S deputy Lord Mayor has told of her shock after being struck down with a devastating paralysis disease.
Maria Parodi's speech and facial expression have been affected by Bell's Palsy, which she was diagnosed with just eight weeks ago.
The 27-year-old councillor said that she was terrified she was having a stroke when she watched one side of her face droop.
"It was a huge shock. I looked in the mirror and I thought I was having a stroke -- my whole face dropped and then I got pressure on my chest, but I think that was my own shock," she said.
Ms Parodi immediately went to St Vincent's Hospital with her partner.
"When the nurse saw me she rushed me straight in and that gave me another shock," she said.
"It could have been worse. They said it takes time. It could be three weeks, three months or a year.
"I just hope I don't have it for the whole year as Deputy Lord Mayor, but if I do, I do."
The Dublin City politician has refused to let the illness affect her work and is keeping upbeat about the future.
"It has improved a lot. My speech was a lot worse but I'm keeping positive about it," she said.
"I was taking steroids at the beginning, but I'm a bit of a guinea pig. I'm using a laser machine where I clip on electrodes and they send shockwaves into my face.
"I wear it for an hour a day," she explained.
"There is a slight improvement. The nerves are just paralysed. My speech was a lot worse but I'm keeping positive about it."
Cllr Parodi, who's mother is from Sandymount and father is from Genoa, Italy, was herself born in Miami and said that her local constituents have been so understanding.
"Every one in public has been really kind," she said.
"I've been out and about in the local community and everyone has been lovely.
"A lot of people know it straight away. What I've noticed is that it is very common. Maybe it was meant to happen."
Cllr Parodi has finished her first month as Deputy Lord Mayor and said that she has already had successes in saving the 77a bus route as well as obtaining a €100k grant approval to upgrade an area known as the 'cabbage patch' into a state-of-the-art football pitch in Dublin 8.
"When I first started I wanted to change everything overnight, but it takes time," she said.
"I'm really enjoying it. I'm getting to do a good few things and hope that I can make a difference."