Friday, March 30, 2012

One Stroky’s Journey: More about My Botox

Today is Day Two following botox injections for the bad tone in my arm and hand. If it works results won’t show up until more than two weeks from now, according to my neurologist.

Yesterday I noticed two things that had changed already. For the first time since the tone set in big time about three months after my stroke in April 2011, I was able to easily extend my left elbow, almost completely straight.

I have been working on that with a medical apparatus by DynaSplint that stretches my arm straight at night while I sleep.
Elbow DynaSplint

And I consciously work on straightening it when I am sitting or walking. Success until now has been inconsistent. While I’m walking, the left elbow usually pops up into a 90 degree angle. When I am sitting before I know it, the tone has made my hand migrate into my lap.

When I was in inpatient rehab during the second through fifth weeks after the stroke, I had started calling my left hand Cheryl after Cheryl Burke, one of the professional dancers on the reality dance competition Dancing With the Stars.

Burke was great at whipping some truly hopelessly awkward celebrities into a semblance of the demanding dance moves. My strategy was that my naming the stroke-affected hand after the show-stopping dancer and gifted teacher would inspire my hand and injured brain to start communicating again and restart movement. But my hand remained uninspired and got worse.

“Cheryl, get out of there!” was my frequent cry as that hand landed at my crotch, or worse, in my underwear as I would be pulling clothing into place after taking care of business. If you ever have a loved one who has had a stroke, you may encounter a return to some aspects of the toddler stage. I didn’t do a repeat of the terrible twos. Pottying, though, came with challenges of balance and transferring from a wheelchair. It was a major big deal and still can be although I am walking now and mostly independent in that area of personal care.

Cheryl still migrates, but not as persistently.

The other thing I noticed was that yesterday, the day after the injections, the top of my left shoulder was distinctly achy and has been so today, too. I don’t know if that is connected or not. 

Here are some replies to comments about my botox.

To Gigi: No, botox is not permanent. But that is okay. The goal is to relax those muscles and nerves that cause me to curl up. Curling up is my description, not a word I have ever heard from physicians or therapists, but precisely what I feel like. Relaxing the appropriate muscles and nerves will give us a chance to work on exercises to strengthen the opposing muscles, like the ones that open up my hand and spread my fingers.

Various exercises along with my elbow DynaSplint and wrist DynaSplint will hopefully work more successfully as the botox kicks in. I will also continue using the shoulder DynaSplint that husband Walter has dubbed “the rack.” That apparatus is helping to increase my range of movement in my locked up shoulder.

To Patti, Friko, and Glenda: My neurologist did say even if the injections don’t eliminate the tone, he guarantees I will feel better.

To Ginny: My insurance will supply a limited number of treatments each year. I am scheduled to go for a follow up visit near the end of June.


  1. It looks like this is starting to work already, I am so glad!!! In two weeks, you should be doing awesome!! Now I have two Cheryl Burkes to keep an eye on...

  2. to funny on naming your hand, great idea and your sense of humor survived your stroke. the arm stretcher is amazing, had no idea they even had things like this. to me you have improved a LOT...

  3. I guess that picture is not you, as it shows a right, not left, arm. Interesting device.

    Maybe I should have botox on the right side of my face, because Bell's Palsy has cramped it. When I had my first BP episode in 2004, I had to have an MRI done of my brain to rule out a stroke. Neither disease is fun to have.

  4. I'm sorry, I had to laugh at your toilet humor. I guess that is the only way to treat an incident where your husband has to come into the ladies room to pick you up off the floor. As for the arm in the underwear, well, been there done that, although I had more problems with my misbehaving left leg which occasionally flings out unexpectedly even today.

    I have grab bars everywhere and thank God the stoke was on the left side as I am right-handed. My left leg is still a bit weak and I am prone to have falls so I have learned to hang onto things.

    My left arm is almost normal, although I am not very strong on that side. My little finger gives me fits from time to time, as you might note when I hit the wrong key on the left side of the keyboard. Typing has helped me rebuild my finger strength.

    At least I don't drool out of the side of my mouth anymore. I did throw my cell phone in the toilet the other week, however.

    Laughter is the best medicine.

    My best to you. Dianne

  5. Your sense of humor is always so refreshing. Anyone else describing Cheryl would be considered whining. There is no whine in your post, just good natured personal ribbing. You always amaze me.
    Hoping the pain goes away and Cheryl keeps improving.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing your journey and recovery with us. You are an inspiration!

  7. good for you!! sounds hopeful!!

  8. You continue to enlighten us on all the challenges that one might face after a stroke, but you do so with such grace and humor that I find myself in awe of you. You truly are an inspiration. I hope the botox works and lasts longer that usual so you can get that hand to behave. Sending love and prayers.

  9. Linda, I love and admire your fighting spirit :)

    I've never heard of using botox for this problem, but it's an interesting concept--and I love the name you've given your arm :)

    I know all about the "uncooperative arm" from watching my mother after her stroke. I wish she'd had at least 1/2 of your fighting spirit, but she just gave in...

    Keep the faith, I'm cheering you on, as you continue through your recovery to be the best you can be :) Best wishes always!

  10. Excellent self-help, to call your arm by a name that means something.
    You tell Cheryl to behave, or else.

  11. You really are amazing...and I like the positive way you look at things.

    Happy Easter!

    Thanks for your comment on my blog.
    You are a sweetheart!

    Linda @ Truthful Tidbits

  12. I'm amazed at how hard you are working to get things as good as they can be - you are wonderful. Thank you for sharing it all with us, it gives those of us who are not so well at times, a boost.