Another kind of poison / Wellcome Images
Another kind of poison / Wellcome Images

Today I had some poison.

After a stroke, some muscles may become unable to relax. Biceps (arm muscle) might always be "on," always bent up. The arm cannot straighten. Not only is it annoying to have an arm bent all the time, it gets really sore.

One solution: make it harder for a messed-up nervous system to boss muscles around. For me, doctors do this by temporarily killing off the junctions where the nerves talk to the muscles, in this case wrongly. The poison is Botox. Botox is famous for petrifying celebrities’ faces. It is a poison that makes it hard for celebrities to frown. On me, it makes my arm harder to bend.

The injections are not pleasant. I prefer to be anywhere else. The procedure feels like a regular injection, except it keeps going on and on. Doctors keep poking with needles as they try to figure out where the poison will work best. They have a machine, about the size of a cigarette box, that helps them pinpoint exactly where. It makes noise: Beep...Beep...Poke!....Ow! ....Beep...Beep...Poke!....Ow! I had a half-hour of injections in my hand, arm, and shoulder today.

Over the next few weeks the injections get stronger. Then, poisoned limbs feel weak and numb: sort of hot and cold at the same time. It gives you the chance to work weak muscles that can't compete with your messed-up strong ones. The poison leaves the body after three months. If you have good results, you can get another set of pokes then.

Does this work? I think so.  I still have hand therapy, so you cannot perfectly know. My hand specialist says she can tell when I am near the end of a three month session. My muscles are less cooperative.