I received my first round of a Botox shots about 2 months ago. Botox is supposed to decrease the severe tightness in the muscles with people who have cerebral palsy. Having overly tight muscles 24/7 is painful and exhausting. Botox can relax the muscles and therefore increase the functionality in whatever limb you get the shots in. However, the shots were pretty damn excruciating. But I will get to that.
So my husband, Greg, and I made neurology appointments with the same doctor (for different reasons) sequentially so we can get it all over at once. More importantly, Greg needs to be in the room while I am getting the Botox shot because I have a huge phobia of needles and literally start hyperventilating. I would make a terrible drug addict.
Our neurologist came and took us back to the room to administer my Botox. As we are sitting in there, she began to mix the liquid and powder together. Apparently Botox comes in a powder and must be mixed with saline. She assured me the large needle she was using to mix the two substances together was not going to be the needle that she would use to inject me. The needle she was going to use to inject me with the Botox was actually a very tiny one.
While we were waiting the neurologist explains the effects of the Botox will only last 12 weeks. Greg turns to me and helpfully states that 12 weeks is three months. I sharply turned to him and snap “I know it’s three months,” at the same time as the doctor chuckles, “Yes, 3 months.” Greg’s eyes widen slightly as he sheepishly says, “Well you always say that you are bad with numbers.” He gives me a small smile as I look at him incredulously and respond, “Yeah I am bad with numbers, but I know what three months is!”
Seriously? I work in HR – we cite three months and 12 weeks in so many policies. Also, as bad as I am at math, who the hell doesn’t know that 12 weeks equals three months? I shook my head at him and turned to face the doctor just as he says, “Well I bet they got your mind off of the shot for a minute,” his smile widening. I hear the doctor laughing at our ridiculous exchange. But now she’s ready. The Botox is ready and I make my way to sit on the patient bed.
Greg follows and as I climb (yup, I’m so short I have to do a climbing maneuver) to sit on the bed I inform the doctor that I have never gotten a shot in my right arm. She looks shocked at this information and asked me why not. For a few seconds I also give her a look of astonishment. She is seeing me for the treatment of my spastic cerebral palsy disability and the pain associated with it. Emphasis on the spastic. I told her I don’t get shots in my right arm because not only would my right arm extremely tighten up but it would also end up punching the person giving me the shot.
Let me make a sidenote here. My CP affects my right arm and hand pretty severely – to the point where it significantly hinders my functionality while significantly decreases the ability for me to control my right arm and hand at times. For example, when I was a child my right hand would punch me in the face and head quite frequently. In case you’re wondering, this was annoying as fuck.
As I aged I worked out my arms more, gaining more strength and control over my right arm and hand. The hitting myself decreased but did not entirely stop. Every once in a while my hand makes a surprise attack on my face and clocks me before my brain and left-hand can comprehend what’s about to happen to catch it and stop the attack. When this happens my usual response is: fuck you, too, righty.
Yep, I have CP and sometimes I curse at my individual body parts when they go rogue. It happens.
So the doctor reassured me the shots will not be painful because the needle is so small, she will be quick, and I will not need 31 shots of Botox. Let’s highlight that I’d been under the impression that I had only needed one shot of Botox in my arm. Nope.
Greg grabs my face with his left hand to keep me from watching as the doctor gets ready to start the injections. I don’t know what is wrong with me. It’s like watching a fucking train wreck. I obviously don’t want to watch the needle being inserted into my arm but I also can’t seem to freaking help myself. Therefore, Greg has to physically keep my head from turning in that direction.
Right before she give me the first shot my body spasms in an upward motion. The doctor then instructs me to not jump and to hold still. I explained to her that I can’t help it. This is why I don’t get shots in my right arm – I can’t control what it does. She reassured me that she is strong and will keep it in place. Thanks, Doc. Good luck with that.
This chick shot me up at least 12 times. I counted that night and I’m sure there were a few shots in the back of my arm that I couldn’t even see. The shots, regardless of how tiny the needle was, were fucking excruciating. I squeezed the hell out of Greg’s other hand – poor guy.
In the middle of this ordeal the neurologist joked about how I was going to handle giving birth. I quickly informed her that I will be getting a C-section. She laughed. I am not joking – fuck that painful noise. Also, natural births are very risky for people with CP.
Furthermore, when the needle would enter my arm and the pain would startle my nerves/pain receptors – I would spasm or flinch causing the needle to exit my arm. Awesome. This meant the doctor had to re-inject my arm in that area to hit that particular muscle. One thing you must understand is one of the amazing symptoms of having CP is an extreme sensitivity to the pain I feel from external stimuli. I feel physical pain more intensely than the average person, especially if you do not have a disability.
Needless to say this entire process was painful and slightly emotionally exhausting. My arm was bleeding from multiple small injection sites for several minutes. My arm felt heavy and swelled up for the rest of that day and night.
Greg was a champ and so was the doctor. I applaud her for her quickness and hopefully she can better anticipate what my arm is likely to do next time – she assured me she would be better at it the second time.
Here is a short update: on the second day after getting the shots I brushed my hair with my right hand for the first time in my life, pressed the buttons on the side of our electric couch, and could text using my right hand. On day three, I had enough control and had less spasms that I was able to actually type on a computer keyboard.
These may seem like small and insignificant activities. However, they are big accomplishments for someone who has never been able to do them. Makes you think about the little of things that are often taken for granted.
In truth, the Botox shots have had both negative and positive affects on my life. I will post another blog that describes the good, the bad, and the annoying of the last two months and trying to relearn my body with Botox. The struggle is real, but worth it.
Until next time.
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