I am a headache connoisseur. I know the difference between a migraine, a tension headache and the all mysterious cluster headache. I know if a headache has been brought on by not enough sleep, too much sleep, stress, bright light, or caffeine. It's like I'm a rare wine taster except that I'm a rare headache solver. I can feel one coming on and instead of swirling the glass of wine I rub my temple and intuitively say "Oh, this one is because I was up from 2 am until 3 am." Or "This one is because my child just told me that they have a huge project due tomorrow morning and it's 8:00 at night."
I know my headaches.
The reason I have such extensive knowledge relating to unexplainable pain in the head is because I have so many headaches. Migraines, check. Cluster, check. And, my all time fave, tension, BIG check.
Before we go any further, let it be said that yes, I have had a CAT scan. I have had a MRI. They came up with nothing other than the fact that the radiologist said it was the most beautifully formed brain they had ever seen.
Ah, my old friend, the tension headache. Starts out with a tightening between the eyes. Spreads to the temples. Feels like your head is in a C-clamp. Comes on every, single, day around 1:00 in the afternoon. Funny, that is also the time when I realize that not everything I have to get done today is going to get done that day.
I head to the doctor to get my fourth prescription and he starts by asking me how many ulcers I've had in the last two years. "Four." I answer. To which he replies "You know those are a direct result of the prescription ibuprofen." And I say "Yes. I know." He starts to tell me that maybe we should look at other options. "Like what?" I ask. And, he answers "The dreaded needle."
My first reaction is that he is going to hook me to an IV drip to get the medicine into my bloodstream faster. But he says no. "Kelly, I'm talking a needle to your face."
WHOA. Slow down. My face? Like, right in my face? A shot? "Fifteen shots to be exact." He replies. "Fifteen shots of Botox." He goes on to tell me how Botox is FDA approved to treat migraines and tension headaches and they are having great results and blah, blah, blah. I'm not liking this. I mean, call me crazy, but I like to make expressions. When I'm angry, I want people to know it. He starts throwing around words like kidney damage and liver breakdown enzymes. Ewww. Okay. If I have to choose between 15 shots of Botox in my face and my prescriptions permanently damaging my kidneys, I guess I will take the Botox.
I make the injection appointment for later in the week and leave the office. My internal dialogue begins. 'Is this who I am? Do I get Botox in my face? Do I need to start plumping my lips and dressing like a "Housewife" from any major metro area? Will my trendy friends embrace me? Will my hiking-outdoorsy friends shun me? Will my intellectual friends laugh at me?' As you can see, I talk to myself a lot. I told myself it really doesn't matter what anybody thinks. This was ordered by a real medical doctor. This is for a legitimate reason. I'm not vain. I just want my head to start feeling better.
I arrive at the appointment and much to my surprise, it's not the medical doctor who will be doing the shots. It's his nurse practitioner. And she is 26 and super perky!
Her - "Okay! Are you like so excited?"
Me - "To get shots? No."
Her - "You are like so going to love it! It will get rid of all those pesky worry wrinkles on your forehead!"
Me - "Well, that's not why I'm doing it. I get really bad headaches. And what wrinkles are you talking about? I'm only 36."
Her - "Oh, it will just soften you." (Apparently I look hard.) "Are you ready?"
Me - A big hand clap. "Let's do this thing."
Fifteen pinpricks and five minutes later, it was done.
Her - "How do you feel?!"
Me - "Um... the same."
Her - "Well, it takes a week to kick in. Where else do you want some?"
Me - "Um... nowhere."
Her - "Come on. Everybody wants more. Look at my face. I've had it all over."
Me - "Yeah, but I like to move my face."
Her - "You'll like so be back. Everybody always comes back for more."
She pushed me so hard to have more that you would think the Botox company was giving her kickbacks. I held my ground and only got the shots where the medical doctor prescribed them.
I left. About 24 hours later I noticed my daily tension headache wasn't nearly as painful as it usually is. Forty-eight hours later, I was headache free. I ran outside my house. I shouted to the birds, the trees, the mailman, "My headache is gone! It's gone! It worked! It really, really, worked!" It was like clouds had parted and I was seeing the sun for the first time in years. I called my family, my friends. I danced in the kitchen. I threw away all my medicine. Okay, I didn't throw it away but I put it high on the shelf instead of it's usual place on my nightstand. I was a new woman.
Now here is the thing. My forehead wrinkles are gone. Really. And I can still move my forehead. As I looked in the mirror, I started wondering what else she could do for me. She had mentioned the little wrinkles by my eyes. Hmm... I wonder how I would look with those gone? To which I slapped myself in the face and yelled "STOP!" If you go there, when do you quit? I could see myself in a years time with fish lips and size F breasts and ratty hair extensions and super tight cheeks. Not looking better, but definitely looking weird.
So now you know. I had Botox. And I really do love it. Where as I went to the office grudgingly, a week later I was singing the praises of botulism toxin. Does this change who I am? I hope not. When I tell people what I did I always include that it was prescribed by a medical doctor (I am not vain). But I'll tell you one thing. Those Botox people? They sure know what they're doing.