Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Botox for spasticity

I just got home from breakfast with a friend, who is a nurse and works with anesthesia for various patients who require certain procedures. We had a delightful morning just talking about our lives, how happy we are to live in our town, our activities and so on. We ate our delicious omelets and talked and talked over coffee. I was talking so much that I completely forgot I had ordered juice! Barbara is on vacation and had a bridge game to attend so we finally stopped chatting. Ah, it is so important to have friendships that matter and just help set the tone for the day!

Once we had to break away from the cozy spot we were in, I got up slowly so I didn't knock over the chair along with my cane and everything else, I stopped and explained how spasticity in my left leg hinders most everything I do. You find spasticity in many conditions including cerebral palsy, stroke, brain injury, almost any condition that involves the central nervous system in some way. Spasticity in MS can occur in the upper limbs or lower limbs. In my case my left leg. There are a number of involuntary muscle contractions that happen because of disruption of the central nervous system. My brain, disrupted in its signals to certain muscles, cannot tell the muscle to relax when it should instead making it contract. The result is too much tone and tightness. This link explains spasticity in a more medical way.

 I just talk of my experience with spasticity.  Now, how can I or rather, is there a way that I can reduce this tightness without suffering in a big way from the oral agents that they have now? Now everyone knows how I am not a fan of big medicine. I am also not a fan of temporary relief! So, my friend told me of all the people she had seen with cerebral palsy, including kids who needed anesthesia to undergo this procedure. Botox injections! I must say, she got me thinking.

My mind whirled around as I thought of regaining some of my range of motion in that leg -- which is now being blocked by increased muscle tone and central nervous system imbalance. The nerves in that leg are not firing right and the muscles are not getting the right signals. Forgive me if I sound repetitive, it is only because I'm thinking aloud. The substance in question is acetacholine, which is what Botulinum Toxin blocks so the muscle can relax. This is what the upshot of the conversation was. She made it all sound so routine. She also said that that Botox "takes" for about 3 months in most people.

So, I did some reading on how there are side effects with all this, including weakness in the muscle that is being relaxed as well as surrounding muscles. Anything invasive, I am pretty against. I think I will manage like this until something without side effects comes along. Yes, this would certainly bring me relief but in someway brings with it a whole new learning curve. Am I afraid to get on that curve and am I being silly by not trying? Maybe, but I think a good massage relaxes me too. I know it's not the same thing but it just doesn't sound appealing particularly since I've endured so much already. In my case, less is more.

I have tried oral agents and a host of other things that seem logical. But walking into an office and then having to return every so often is not the answer I seek. In the middle of the winter when I could be doing so many more constructive things, I do not want to sit in a doctor's office. Honestly, life is just too short. There are too many other things I could be doing!

More power to the young people with cerebral palsy and other conditions who go through this.

I will wait patiently, just like I have for 26 years but know what? I have learned so much along the way that I don't think I would have just going for ready answers.

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