Yes. It’s true. I got Botox.
I’ve dreamed of this day for a while now. Since the first time I realized the furrow lines in my forehead wouldn’t go away even after my feelings of consternation had disappeared. Since that crow decided to make a permanent Mann Chinese type imprint of its feet at the corners of my eyes. Since my smile lines began staying behind long after the episode of The Daily Show was over.
Randy the perfekt husband is not a believer in Botox. “It’s botulism!” is the only response I’d get when I’d ask him to list his prejudices against the stuff. I hate it when he gets all scientific and logical on me.
Well, despite Randy’s opposition, last Friday I was injected with Botox. And it was even COVERED BY INSURANCE! Yep. You heard that right. Because it was deemed a medical necessity.
Crap! You’re thinking. Those must be some pretty hellacious wrinkles! The kind Bear Grylls would ride a rope down into and disappear. Well, they’re not. I mean, yeah, they seem bad to me. But it’s not the reason my insurance covered it.
It’s because the Botox was injected INTO MY VOCAL CHORDS. No, not my neck. My vocal chords.
Oh yeah. Apparently Botox ain’t just for making the actresses on Desperate Housewives look like they belong in Madame Tussauds. Botox, it seems, can be used for a multitude of medical applications. To alleviate migraines for one. Oh and also a little thing called LARYNGEAL SPASMS. Which is what I had.
What the heck is that, you ask? Good question. Cuz I didn’t know either until it happened to me. It’s where your vocal chords suddenly close up and you are unable to get any oxygen into your lungs. Holy crap! you say? Well you’d be right. Holy %$#@! crap!
One thing you should know about me. I don’t get sick with your little everyday things. No. When I get sick it’s always something it takes the brilliant medical team on the show HOUSE to figure out.
If you’ve been following the website, you know I’ve been sick the last couple of weeks with sinus and bronchitis crud. Well, I guess all those weeks of coughing must have set something off. Because last Sunday I awoke from a dead sleep, gasping for air — horrible wheezing/choking sounds emanating from my throat.
I didn’t know what was happening. I started to panic! I was home alone with Julia, my 7 year-old. Randy the perfekt husband was out of town on a much deserved boys’ weekend out with his best buddies. As I gasped for air, feeling like I was going to pass out, a million things rushed through my mind. What would happen to Julia if she awoke to find me on the ground unconscious? Would she know to call 911? And what were the paramedics going to think about the messy house? We mommies think of things like that.
Finally the spasm passed. I got some air in, after which I had a horrendous coughing fit. And then know what I did? I STAYED AWAKE THE REST OF THE NIGHT! I was afraid to sleep. Do you blame me?
The next day I went back to my ENT who sent me next door to Urgent Care for a breathing treatment. At this point they were thinking asthma. At this point I was thinking, TWO CO-PAYS? Are you kidding me? What ENT doesn’t have a breathing machine in their office. Oh, also he switched my meds. Which meant I might as well have flushed the $75 bucks I’d spent thus far on the last batch of apparently useless medicine.
Not wanting to worry Randy while he was on that golf course in San Francisco overlooking the ocean, I didn’t call him to let him know. What was the point? Nothing he could do about it. I know. I’m such a good wife.
Sick as I was I picked him up from the airport at 10pm that night. He asked how our weekend was and I said fine except for the part where I almost choked to death and ended up in Urgent Care. He gave me that look he gives me when he’s sure I’m being overly dramatic. Which in his defense, I am known to be.
Well, he found out that this time I wasn’t exaggerating. Sure enough, that very night I started choking again. The attacks became more frequent and worse. At one point he was ready to call 911.
I visited both the ENT and the Urgent Care docs AGAIN who each witnessed a spasm – the result of their poking around in my throat. They each told me it looked as though I was having laryngeal spasms. Naturally I had LOTS of questions.
ME: What causes them?
DOC: Could be lots of things. (Doc speak for…I haven’t the foggiest)
ME: What do I do for them?
DOC: Don’t panic. You can’t die from them. The worst you can do is pass out. And if it gets worse than that, have your husband give you CPR.
Well. I felt better…NOT!
Meanwhile, I went to the Urgent Care ($20 co-pay) for another breathing treatment. The Urgent Care doc was more straightforward.
URGENT CARE DOC: This breathing treatment isn’t going to help you. I have no idea how to help you.
And he shook my hand as he showed me the door.
That night, I had one of the worst nights of my life. Day four of no sleep. I couldn’t sleep for fear of choking. And when I finally fell asleep… that’s right, I started choking.
Well, that did it! Having had a bad experience with doctors a few years back when it took them a long time to diagnose a problem…I knew I had to be my own advocate and take matters into my own hands. So you know what I did?
I WENT ON THE INTERNET! I looked my problem up online. Now the internet is a glorious thing…unless you use it to self-diagnose. Because no matter what symptoms you type in, it comes up that have something terrible. Blurry vision and a headache. You’re dying. Numbness in your fingertips. You’re dying of something horrible. Headache and sore throat. Dead.
I turned off that frickin’ computer. (Actually Randy told me I had to).
The next morning I called UCLA MED CENTER- they have the top docs in the nation. Now it usually takes 4 weeks to get an appointment but I BEGGED my way in. The ENT department referred me to a throat specialist (I guess he’s just a “T”). They got me in.
They were fabulous. The doc checked me out. Asked me questions. Asked if anything stressful was going on in my life. I said well, that fact that suddenly I find myself unable to breathe was making me pretty stressed out. He was not amused.
He stuck a camera down my nose and into my throat. The GAGGING and COUGHING set off a spasm. And there it was, on videotape for me to see. As I gasped through tears to catch my breath, he pointed out with detached professionalism that my brain was for some reason telling my vocal chords to shut. That usually happens when you’re drowning. Since I’d been drowning in post nasal drip for two weeks, it made perfect sense.
DOC: You need Botox.
ME: Yes. But what about my spasms?
DOC: You need Botox to relax your spasms. I’m going to give you three shots through your neck into your vocal cords.
ME: While you’re at it, could you do my forehead?
No laughter. Not even a smile. These docs are humorless. But know what? I don’t care! That night, I didn’t have a single spasm! And not one since. I love that humorless doc. He is my best friend!
Sure, my voice is just above a whisper and will be for the 3 months that the Botox lasts. That makes me sad because it means I can’t read to Julia or sing to her like I have every night since she was born. But losing my voice is not an entirely bad thing according to Randy. I’m not sure if he meant it was sexy or he wouldn’t have to listen to me. I don’t want to know.
Also, I slur my vowels. So I sound a little drunk. Or indecisive. Or indecisively drunk. Or drunkenly indecisive.
What is the bottom line, you ask? Could be a lot of things. That’s doctor speak for no one has any freaking idea.
Usually after one more course of treatment, things go back to normal. That’s because the underlying problem is gone. In some cases, it never goes away and I have to get Botox forever. I’m trying not to think of that right now.
Not exactly how I imagined my foray into the world of Botox to go. I was hoping for more of the “you look ten years younger” comments instead of “you sound like a phone sex operator” comments. But if I had a choice between looking good and breathing I’d pick….uh…. well, OF COURSE I’d pick breathing.
Besides, I bet I have the smoothest vocal chords in my whole neighborhood. So ladies, eat your heart out.