Botox Benefits

I’ve thrown up on exactly one nurse since my last post.

Not all of my stories make it on the internet, but this one definitely will. I had a lot going on this week, but I’m going to give a snapshot of the week through Wednesday’s events disentangled from most of the context. The most important overarching detail I need to include is that the weeklong course of antibiotics prescribed was handed over to me by the pharmacist with instructions to take each dose with food.

Wednesday morning my alarm went off early so I could get myself ready to go by 8:20am. I opened the door to find my weekly brötchen – a perfect breakfast to take before my antibiotic. I buttered it and thanked God for the gift of good bread in Germany and took my bright yellow pill before getting in the car with my neighbor to drive to the familiar REHAB hospital over the border. I apologized to the nurses for my still broken German and did my best to answer all the questions about my medications, allergies, and catheter habits in my second language. They graciously supplemented English when necessary, and even printed out a new copy of the waiver I was supposed to be mailed that never arrived. This might be an important detail about how I never got the ten page document with important instructions in German that I would likely never have read having done this procedure five times already.

Anyways, they put me on the fancy exam table and took a picture of my bladder to put up on the screen to my right. Next they attached some electrodes, sticking stuff in uncomfortable places causing muscle reactions I couldn’t control. The last step is the catheter attached to sterile fluid that they then fill my bladder with. I patiently wait, coughing at regular intervals when the nurse instructs, watch the fluid show up dark on the screen as they take pictures every few minutes. I let the nurses know when I feel anything, when I think I’d look for a bathroom, and when my bladder feels too full for more. Once we reach that point, she stops, taps firmly on my bladder to trigger more spasms in my spastic bladder, and we laugh about how this is not the most pleasant part of the morning. She eventually empties my bladder and gets ready the IV.

I’m ready for my nap, but among our chatter, one nurse mentions how I haven’t eaten breakfast which I correct her by saying that I did, in fact, eat a roll this morning. This triggers alarm, and the doctor completing the procedure is brought in to confirm how much I’ve eaten and when. “You aren’t supposed to eat six hours before this procedure,” I’m told. I don’t remember this ever being told to me before… but also, duh? I’m going under anesthesia, and that’s kinda common sense, I’m remembering as the doctor is calling the head of the urology department to ask if two hours is long enough to have food gone through my stomach in order to safely do this procedure. I’m low key panicking – I don’t want to have another course of antibiotics when this is rescheduled because I was dumb enough to be so focused on not throwing up before the procedure.

The doctors and nurses agree they’ll still do the botox injections, but they’ll lower the doses of both the pain medications and the anesthesia in my IV because it’s very dangerous to put me under in case I aspirate food and can’t wake up to breath properly. I’m fine with this. The procedure is short, and I’ve actually got a super high pain tolerance. This round was very similar to my first botox injections where I never fully went to sleep and felt the pokes and stabs of the needle while whimpering prayers because of the unknown length. I did know it’d be short this time, so I grimaced and groaned a bit, toughing it out til the end. I heard them finishing up, pulling pieces away, and felt a strong flush through my face. Uh-oh.

I made some loud groan kind of noise, and one of the nurses came over right away and asked, “Are you okay?” I had just enough time to respond, “No,” before all my brötchen came up in digestive juices. This is why the procedure is dangerous if you’ve eaten recently. The nice staff cleaned up the floor, themselves, and me quickly and effectively. They moved me to the recovery bed where I was now already very alert and getting anti-nausea medication in my IV. “Are you okay?” several nurses came through and asked over the next half hour. “Yeah, I’m fine. I’m ready to go. I’ve got class in two hours.”

Actually, I didn’t tell them I had class in two hours. But I did go teach as soon as I got home. I was even less loopy than last time two years ago when I did the same morning procedure and afternoon lessons. Several of my friends told me this is silly. Apparently when you go under anesthesia, it’s a big deal? Listen, I feel like this is routine now, and I don’t have time for that kind of absence in my class. I’ll only skip for major procedures. I’m not sure what I’d put in that category, but definitely not botox injections. At the same time, my friends admonishments and warnings were a healthy reminder for me that I do need to care for my body, and even though I’ve done this a lot, it’s a big deal to put my body through. Those poisonous injections are helping me have less bladder issues (almost – they’re slower in taking effect this time than normal which is a bit of a bummer), and I need to remember that my body is still broken in a lot of ways even though I’m used to some of the medical interventions that help me make steps towards normalcy.

I’m not able bodied, and that sucks. I hate the limitations of nerve damage. But I’m so grateful for the botox and other aids and interventions that give me the chance to have a beautiful life doing things I love like teaching students and baking cheesecakes. In fact, yesterday, some seniors stopped by and asked to come back today to make a cheesecake with me. You know I never turn down cheesecake. I want to end with both these things clear: disability sucks, but my life doesn’t. I can laugh about my silly hospital mishaps, but they aren’t events I want to repeat or wish on others. I want to learn to walk again. I want to honor God with my body, and for now, it’s a disabled body. I won’t complain, but I also won’t pretend this is how my body is supposed to work. I certainly won’t forget to keep an empty stomach before anesthesia ever again, but here’s hoping it’s not a necessary event in my life in the future.

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