Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My Mother's Warning Realized

Do you remember you mother warning you not to frown too often because your face would freeze that way or you would develop wrinkles or frown lines? Mine did, though admitidly not ofter. I guess that I didn't take her warnings too seriously though. Recently, in the last 6 months or so, I have noticed an increase in a particular facial twitch that I have. The left side of my mouth is drawn up towards my eye and my face is temporarily 'frozen'. Try as I might, I cannot make unfurl my lip. It's an annoyance. So, the last time that I visited my doctor I told her about this latest development. She assured me that it was relatively normal and that several of her 'myotonics' have a similar problem. (That's how she refers to her DMD patients-myotonics, I'm not sure how I feel about that.) She said that if it became more pronounced or bothered me that there is a treatment for it, botox. And with that, she handed me my slip for my blood work and went about her way. Now, me being -well, me I thought about that all the way home that day. And I have thought about that treatment each time that my face decides to do a bad Elvis impersonation. Botox. So, I Googled it and what do you know? This is what I found: "Botulinum toxin is a medication and a neurotoxic protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It is the most toxic protein known[1][2] with an LD50 of roughly 0.005-0.05 µg/kg. Botulinum toxin is used in minute doses to treat muscle spasms in some parts of the world despite its inherent toxicity."
Now, a few things jump out at me immediately upon reading this. The first is that is it neurotoxic. Now I am no scientist, but by definition that neurotoxic means poisonous. Specifically poisonous to the nerves or nerve cells. The second was that it is in fact used to treat muscle spasms despite its inherent toxicity. So let me get this straight. This is a toxic protein, the most toxic protein known and despite that terminology some people use this to get rid of frown lines? Small wrinkles? I read a little further and found this: "Botox injections work by weakening or paralyzing certain muscles or by blocking certain nerves. The effects last about three to four months. Side effects can include pain at the injection site, flu-like symptoms, headache and upset stomach. Injections in the face can also cause drooping eyelids." Interesting.
Let's review my options shall we? I can walk around looking like someone placed and invisible fish hook in my lip and is pulling on it from above, OR risk the side effects including toxicity? Those don't sound like the best odds to me. What do you think? Would you do it? Are we that vain that we risk our health for a few smoothed out lines, a temporary fix to the inevidible wrinkles that naturally come with age. My mother was telling me just yesterday that when my 7 year old niece Molly was visiting my Mother she looked at her and asked 'Grandma, will I get wrinkles on my face too?' Mom told her that yes, she probably would get wrinkles when she got older. To which Molly replied with not a little sarcasm 'OH, GREAT!'. So, that's where we are that a 7 year old is worried about wrinkles? As for me, when I next visit my doctor and she asks me if that twitch is still bothering me, I know how I'll reply. Yes, yes it is. And now it's on both sides of my face!

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