I will reiterate: It’s Botox day!!
Some of you just read that and went “uhh wtf? She’s 26?” And some of you just read that and went “oh thank goodness” Also, please keep in mind that I decided to write this before work this morning, then I thought it would be a good idea to edit after Botox. Let’s see how this goes.
I’ve never really written about my Botox because it’s not mental illness related or directly service dog related. I have written a little about my migraines, cluster headaches, tension headaches, and plain boring headaches, but not about my treatment. Bella alerts me to on coming migraines and when I get the occasional cluster headache. When it comes to my treatment it’s a long-ish story.
I’ve had chronic headaches since I was in kindergarten. I got my first true migraine in middle school. By college I was getting 3-5 migraines a month. After college is when they became chronic. At my worst I was getting migraines 15-20 times a month each lasting 4-6 hours. I got good at working with them. I just figured that was my life now. It’s a myth that you can’t always work with migraines. I got decent at it. My work wasn’t great but I had “tricks”. When you get 20 migraines a month, you don’t have a choice when it comes to working with them. You have to learn to deal.
I finally started seeing a neurologist in the winter of 2013. For the next year and a half I underwent a ton of tests and different treatment. I had to “fail” 3 medications and start having migraines almost 20 times a month to qualified for Botox. Finally in the spring of 2015 I qualified and had my first Botox scheduled for the end of June. They take that in between time to submit to insurance and she if they will cover it. I was denied twice but finally my mom helped get it approved. They also take that time to prepare you. It’s 38 injections (shots). It can take 15 minutes to an hour depending on my pain tolerance. There will be major side effects the first time. I may not see an improvement right away but I should still have it done 2 more times to accurately test if it works. Treatments are every 3 months.
It’s a lot to take in. But at that point, I was desperate. I had taken lights out of my work office and was using sunglasses so I could work on the computer with a level 6 migraine. Much to my dentist dismay I was drinking Gatorade and coffee by the gallon. If I had one cup of coffee followed by 1 cup of Gatorade and one cup of water I could take the edge off. I was mixing Tylenol and Excedrin just to get by. I had too. I couldn’t not work, I needed money.
I desperately prayed that Botox would work. I couldn’t continue to live like that. The first time I had Botox done was a b*tch (pardon my language but nothing else can describe it) I had a panic attack and passed out in the middle. Thank God for Bella.
It’s an understatement to say the procedure is intense. If you have ever had allergy testing with the prick needles you can kind of imagine what it’s like. Basically they have these vials of Botox and they inject small doses all around your forehead, hairline, neck and shoulders. Each time feels like a wasp sting.
It takes an hour for the first side effects to kick in. Extreme nausea and tiredness are first. I get so exhausted sometimes I barely make it to bed before I crash. Then my muscles get very sore and stiff. The first time I had mild neck paralysis and couldn’t hold my head up with out propping it with my hand.
Now, I only get the tiredness, nausea and muscle aches. But it’s still tough. I dread and anticipate each dose. I feel like an addict sometimes because I can feel when it starts wearing off and I crave the reprieve of Botox. It changed my life as much as Bella has. Now I only get 3 migraines the first month(residual from the treatment), maybe 2 the second month and about 5 the third (usually in the week leading up to my next dose).
Side note/ tangent:
It doesn’t help with the cluster/mixture headaches because those are triggered by season changes so I do infusions for those every 6-7 months. I did not know pain could get worse than a migraine until my first mixture headache. It landed me in the ER almost incapacitated. Those take the breath out of me and render me useless. More useless than migraines use to render me. If you’re wondering the difference between migraine and cluster is this. A migraine is like being stabbed through the eye to the base of your skull with an ice pick. It usually stays on the left side or right side and radiates in an area. It has auras sometimes as well. A mixture on the other hand is like taking a chainsaw and splitting open your skull and then smashing everything with a hammer because it’s a double migraine with tension aches and spasms as well.
I still get normal headaches but I can live with those. Those are baby headaches compared to what I can with stand.
So today I am excited and thankful for modern medicine. With out it I would never leave the cold dark comfort of my basement bathroom. Also on the plus side, I have the best skin a 27-year-old could ever have.