Today I was injected with the most potent poison known to man. One gram of it (about the mass of a raisin) is enough to kill over 5.5 million men. It poses a serious risk as a biological weapon, and has been labelled a category A substance by the Centre for Disease Control. I am talking about Botox, or Botulinum Toxin if you prefer it’s full name.
Despite it being so deadly, Botox is useful for many medical conditions, such as excessive sweating, migraines and cerebral palsy amongst others. It is also a multi-million pound cosmetic treatment for reducing wrinkles. It’s astonishing that something so dangerous could have so many beneficial uses too.
Botulinum Toxin is produced by the bacteria Clostridium Botulinum. If canned food or an open wound is contaminated with the bacteria it could cause botulism, a potentially fatal disease.
Botulism causes progressive paralysis of the muscles by blocking nerve impulses. This eventually leads to death by respiratory failure if not treated quickly with antitoxins.
Botox is useful in people who have high muscle tone (like myself) or who have involuntary muscle spasms because of its ability to paralyse muscles. The injections don’t cause total paralysis but weaken the muscles in the area of injection to make them easier to work with. When used medically the doses are so small that it is not dangerous, except in very rare cases when paralysis could spread to other areas of the body.
I have high muscle tone, particularly in my arms and legs, and my hands are almost always closed in a fist. It is possible for other people to open my hands out but it’s not easy as they have to fight against the muscles. So I have Botox injections to try and weaken the muscles in my hands and arms, and make them easier to stretch open and keep a good range of movement.
I have Botox every 3 to 4 months and today was the latest occasion. I had four injections just behind my knuckles in each hand to help the fingers open easier. I also had two in my right forearm and one in my left forearm. So 11 injections in total of this deadly poison! They are not too painful. I’ve had so many injections over the years I’m starting to get accustomed to them, but I’m always relieved when it’s over. At least for another three months! By the end of this my hands are covered in plasters and I look like a snake handler that has been bitten too many times.
So are all these injections worth it? Well, I think they help to keep my hands a bit more relaxed than they otherwise would be. I wouldn’t say it makes a spectacular difference but it does help. Botox gets less effective over time as the body builds up resistance to it, so it won’t work forever.
I find it amazing that Botox has so many beneficial uses even when it’s so dangerous. It just goes to show that everything is good in moderation – even the most deadly poison in existence.