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A little over a week ago I got Botox for the treatment of my headaches so I I figured I should provide some thoughts and impressions about Botox.

- Botox is weird. I mean, if you think about it, the whole concept of Botox is weird. You’re injecting a toxin, into your skin, to paralyze the muscles and nerves. While Botox has many uses, to include headache treatment, excessive sweating treatment (strange but true), it’s probably best known for stopping the appearance of wrinkles. Which means most people who get Botox are getting shots to the face, much like I did.

- While the shots don’t hurt necessarily, they don’t feel great. It’s much like getting any other shot – you feel the pinch of the needle and then another pinch as the medicine is pushed into your body. I got seven shots, from temple to temple, across my brow line. It didn’t feel great, and if it cured my headaches I would have endured dozens of these shots but I can’t really imagine doing it every three months for the sake of having a wrinkle-free forehead. I guess I’m not vain enough.

- Many people get immediate headache relief from Botox. Sadly, I wasn’t one of those people. For over 24 hours I could still furrow, wrinkle, and otherwise normally move my forehead. And I still had a headache. Then, while driving my boyfriend to the airport, I got an intense pain in my forehead and I could feel the numbness moving upward from my eyebrows. When it reached the top of my forehead the intense pain faded to a 2-3 and I was no longer able to furrow or wrinkle my forehead.

- The next couple of days my headache was lower than usual, staying in the 2-3 range and I hoped the Botox was working. But then my headaches started getting significantly worse, culminating with a solid 7 headache on Friday. These headaches are different though. Previously my headache felt like someone was stabbing me through the temples with a red-hot ice pick. The pain was intense and piercing. Now it feels like there’s a vise on my temples and it’s cranking down, causing extreme pressure and pain from temple-to-temple and across my forehead. Is this the Botox-related headache that some people suffer from? Is this my body fighting the now-paralyzed muscles and nerves? Or is this how my headache feels when Botox is added to the mix? I don’t honestly know but I’m hoping my doctor has answers.

- My friends are really amused by my inability to move my forehead. I cannot raise my eyebrows in surprise or furrow my brow in anger no matter how hard I try. My eyebrows stay in place and my forehead remains smooth. If nothing else it’s fun to amuse people for a few minutes. ;)

Overall I’m not yet happy with Botox because it hasn’t stopped my headaches. Yes, I have a smooth forehead that I’m unable to move, no matter how hard I try, but being able to furrow my forehead wasn’t a bad thing. I’m now over four months into dealing with a nonstop headache and as I lamented to several friends recently, I really don’t like the person I am right now. I’m cranky when I’m in this much pain and so my friends and my boyfriend bear the brunt to that. I try to keep it to myself as much as possible but I know sometimes I can’t and I am cranky and irritable and just plain bitchy. So to my friends and loved ones, thank you for putting up with me these last couple of months and hopefully the end is in sight. When I’m headache-free and able to celebrate with bubbly the drinks are on me. We’ll have earned a little celebratory toasting I think.

August 11, 2014


Written by Posted in Random Babblings Comments 1

On Saturday I got my first Botox treatment. Now wait, I know what you’re thinking – I’m only 35, aren’t I a little young and awfully vain to be be getting Botox? Yes, both of those things would be true if I were getting Botox to erase my wrinkles but instead I got Botox to treat my never ending headache.

Over a month ago my neurologist put me on medicine #5, the same medicine I was on five years ago when I was last plagued by these intense headaches. He started me on a low dose. It didn’t work so he doubled the dose. When that didn’t work he doubled it again. He made several other tweaks to the dosage but I never found any relief. Having tried many medicines he decided it was time to try something else, hence the Botox.

While Botox is famously know for its use in eliminating the signs of wrinkles, it also is effective in treating certain types of migraines. In order to even qualify for using Botox to treat headaches you have to suffer from them at least 14 days a month. Given I have a daily, nearly constant headache, I clearly qualify. So on Saturday I was laying on the examining table getting shots in my face.

I got a total of seven shots, from temple to temple, across my brow – this is where my headaches reside and so these are the muscles and nerves my doctor hopes to temporarily paralyze. He started with a low dose of Botox – to ensure I don’t have a bad reaction since it is a toxin – and I may need a stronger dose later, we’ll see how this works. I walked out of the office with a slightly numb forehead and a head still hurting. But hey, in theory I won’t be able to furrow my brow as much so there’s a plus side even if it doesn’t help my headaches, right?


A helpful guide to my Botox treatment. Also I'm wearing my new DvF shirt!

A helpful guide to my Botox treatment. Also I’m wearing my new DvF shirt!


After leaving the doctor’s office I ran a few errands, including stopping by my favorite consignment store, Current Boutique, to drop off some clothes. Of course while there I had to peruse the racks and I ended up leaving with a Diane von Furstenberg silk top. Once home I walked my dog, had some lunch, then lounged by the pool and finished the book I was reading.

Botox, designer clothes, and a pool? I’m ready for Hollywood.

Last week I traveled a little bit, down to Louisiana for work for a couple of days, back to Virginia for about six hours, then we hopped in the car and drove to Maine.



It was a busy week and I don’t necessarily recommend anyone cram that much into one week. But hey, I got to eat some delicious fried food in Louisiana (there’s a reason it’s the 4th fattest state in the country) and then I was able to run it all off during the cool Maine mornings. All in all, not a bad thing and I guess it balances itself out.

This week has been equally busy because even though I travel with my work laptop and phone, and check it even while on vacation, it’s not quite the same as being in the office so I’ve spent the week trying to catch up. In addition to getting caught up with work I’ve spent the week settling back into my workout routine and I think I’ve finally gotten to a rhythm that really works for me:

Monday: Run in the morning, yoga in the evening

Tuesday: Run in the morning

Wednesday: Swim in the morning, strength train in the afternoon/evening

Thursday: Run in the morning, yoga in the evening

Friday: Swim in the morning, strength train in the afternoon/evening

Saturday: Run

Sunday: Yoga

It looks like a lot but it’s really not that much. I’m only running 5 miles each day (and relatively slowly at that) and swimming is still something I’m not good at so I’m lucky to get in 20-30 minutes. I’m getting better each time I go but it’s not an exercise that comes easily for me. So I’m getting a good mix of workouts in and I’m feeling good, sleeping well, eating well, and if I can just get my never-ending headache to go away, I’d be feeling damn good.

Over the weekend Jay and I went camping in West Virginia. We got there Friday evening and after setting up camp we hiked to the top of Seneca Rocks to watch the sunset. We’d been to Seneca Rocks earlier in the summer, but it was no less spectacular the second time.

Sunset from the top of Seneca Rocks

Sunset from the top of Seneca Rocks


After watching the sunset we hiked back down, started a fire, and had dinner.

Saturday morning, after eating breakfast and packing our lunch, we drove to Dolly Sods for a long day hike.

Welcome to Dolly Sods!

Welcome to Dolly Sods!


We decided to do the North Hike, which is actually several trails patched together to form a 10.8 mile loop. The day started clear and cool and we happily set off.

Jay and I at the start of our hike

Jay and I at the start of our hike


It was a good hike that had some great views but it wasn’t without faults.

Dolly Sods

Dolly Sods


We knew before starting that there were no trail blazes but it turns out there are few markers either. This meant that on more than one occasion we got lost, headed down the wrong path, or took a trail that ended up not actually being a real trail. Ultimately this meant that instead of hiking 10.8 miles that day we hiked 12 miles. Another less-than-stellar aspect is some of the trails are extremely boggy. In fact, that might be using a generous term – they were muddy, smelly pits and as we picked our way across we got dirtier and smellier. Not usually a big deal but when you’re hot, tired, and one of you goes knees-deep into a smelly, muddy bog, it makes for a nasty last few miles… Of course the worst transgression from the hike was my own damn fault. For reasons I can’t even articulate, I left my sunscreen in the truck. Which meant I spent a good part of six hours in the sun. As a result my sunburn is so severe I want to lay in a tub of aloe.

Sunburned Courtney

Sunburned Courtney

Sunburns hurt!

Sunburns hurt!


So the moral of the story: WEAR SUNSCREEN. And be prepared to encounter some of the smelliest mud there is. Thank goodness for waterproof hiking shoes.


The other day I was driving to a neurologist appointment – oh yes, I’m unfortunately still dealing with a never-ending headache, more on that in a future post – and the song Paralyzer by Finger Eleven began to play on my iPod.

This song brings me back about seven years, when I had a short, but intense relationship with a man. He and I burned hot and fast before, not surprisingly, burning out. This song was popular at the time and we gravitated toward it. When he gave me an iPod as a gift, it came loaded with only one song: Paralyzer. On the back of the iPod was engraved: Lyrics, like poetry, expose the soul. Every time I hear that song I’m transported back to when he was a part of my life.

Of course music conjuring memories is probably as common as certain scents conjuring memories. The winter I was sixteen I had my first teenage love and heartbreak. I didn’t realize the smell of wood burning in our fireplace was so closely tied to my memories of that boy until the following autumn, when my dad started the fire and the scent of wood burning hit me and I immediately teared up. My reaction was so strong I remember it still, nineteen years later.

There are songs that remind me of a more general time in my life, as opposed to a specific event. When I first moved to the DC area six years ago a man I had one date with introduced me to Bob Schneider. That first summer and fall I played his album I’m Good Now on repeat – I loved the music and the lyrics, particularly the song C’mon Baby:

they say love finds its own way home / around the snakes inside your heart underneath all the bone / and though the world may fold you in its pocket you will never bend / you’re not the type my only love my only real friend

and what about the girl who ran / ran so far away she can never find her way back home again / she tripped and fell and broke her heart /  now the only thing she does well is fall apart

that’s what I say but is it true / the truth is everything is perfect and it’s not for me and you / to figure out anything at all and all we’ve got is time / but not much time so fuck the brakes and get in line

This is one of those songs that whenever it comes on I turn it up and sing along at the top of my lungs.

Perhaps music and its lyrics are poignant to me because I’m a poet. Perhaps that man was right when he wrote lyrics, like poetry, expose the soul.