HEIDI'S STORY: "THAT DAY IS A BIT OF A BLUR NOW- BUT IT SHINES IN MY BOTOX STORY LIKE A BEACON.."
Hello there and welcome! My name is Heidi. I'm one of the founders of Never Tox. I'm a survivor from cosmetic Botox gone wrong. I am very glad that you're here. I hope that my story is of comfort to other people suffering, or helps bring into light how dangerous Botox injections are. Botox truly is the most toxic substance on earth, and it should never be put into the human body. How I wish I would have known this 3 years ago. The following is my story. If you have any questions, or you are a Botox survivor who would like to share your story, please fill out the contact form below.
In March of 2016 I went with my friend to her Botox appointment and since they were running a special, I decided to get it too- I didn't tell my husband because he was against it. I received 30 units for my elevens and middle forehead. I will try to bullet point my symptoms to save space here.
3 days after injection: tightening down the sides of my neck, pressure behind my eyes, and a sort of numb feeling in my jaw when I moved it side to side. Dull achy sensations when I brought my back teeth together.
5 days after: I was home alone and went to the bathroom to look in the mirror because I felt my forehead "set" into place and the botox take effect. Immediately, felt a cold sensation like acid run down the side of my face and into my neck. My throat felt like it was tightening and I couldn't swallow well. I sat down on the sofa and my heart raced so fast I felt faint, there was a "crushing" sensation in the center of my chest, I had tunnel vision.
At this point, I believed I was having a heart attack, but didn't know for sure, so I called my mom and she sped over- I told her I had had Botox five days before and she said "that was stupid and unnecessary". Somehow those words in that moment took on so much meaning and it was like my soul was screaming that at me also. I had a horrible foreboding feeling that something was very wrong, and a loud buzzing sound was in my ears coming from inside my head.
She drove me back to the doctor, which she called on the way explaining my symptoms. When I arrived my legs and arms were spasming in spastic jerking movements. The doctor listened to my heart, took my blood pressure and said "this is just a little anxiety, it's normal for some people with Botox. "Your heart is fine." I'm going to give you a script for Xanax, so that you won't care if your heart is racing. It will race, but you won't care." My mom had that look on her face, but took me to fill the script.
Over the next 3 weeks my symptoms continued to get worse and daily: panic attacks, uncontrollable limb shaking, heart racing and palpitations, shortness of breath, unable to get deep breaths, the constant fear of not being able to breathe and my throat closing, vertigo, mania, and depression- with thoughts of wanting to die. An emergency room visit for stroke like symptoms, detachment, and feelings of floating. My forehead would "knot" if I rubbed it.
4 weeks post: additional symptoms of sleep apnea, waking up gasping for air, night sweats, vivid nightmares, and hearing sounds upon drifting off to sleep as though they were playing through a speaker right next to my ear. I saw an internal medicine doctor who tested me for: Lyme disease, MS, Guillain Barre, Epstein Barr, Mono, Lupus, cancer, AIDS, RA, and Hashimoto's. All negative, but my thyroid came back with slight elevation in TSH- about a 4.1. She didn't like the tachycardia, and scheduled a sleep test, an echo, chest ultrasound, and heart monitoring. Then a script for a beta blocker, which I didn't fill. At this point, I was so afraid of side effects from anything that I refused to take medicine- I would cry when I had to swallow just an Advil for the headaches.
6 weeks out: I decided to get serious about working out- I was going to sweat the Botox out if it killed me, I could not live like that anymore. I did 5 days a week at the gym with 45 minutes of biking and 30 minutes of strength training. I would walk in, limbs tremoring and walk out dragging my legs, because I could barely lift them. Increased urination and kidney aching.
8 weeks: I had a fever with a rash, lethargy and no sensation of taste at all. This concerned my doctor, so we did further testing. My thyroid was now enlarged on the right side, and I had lost 10 pounds in a month. Thyroid levels hadn't changed, so she next ran multiple virus tests. Positive for Cytomegalovirus and Fifth disease. She believed these were picked up from my immune system being on the brink.
12 weeks: Nearly paralytic getting up in the morning, like an 90 year old woman, I could barely lift my legs to step. Internal buzzing like the center of my bones were hooked up to an electrode. I also felt like I was wearing body suit made out of lead. Tingling in my right cheek and on and off numbness, neuropathy, numb toes and legs. Headaches that felt like a fist squeezing behind my eyes.
4-6 months out: I had lost more weight and had no energy or desire to live. I was so sad. I couldn't even read a book to my kids, because my arms had no strength to hold anything, stir anything, brush my hair, or even take a shower. I also experienced what I think was a light seizure- an electric shock feeling inside my head and the sensation of being out of control, yet completely controlled and "pressed in" to the center of my body, without being able to speak for about 5 seconds. However, at the 6 month mark, I noticed a waning of these symptoms: neck stiffness, eye pressure, forehead knotting, shortness of breath.
9 months post: Less frequent heart racing, down to weekly instead of daily, less tingling and numbness. Mobility and strength returning to my arms and legs, better sleep, elevated outlook on life, better appetite and sense of taste, weight gain, slight movement in forehead muscles.
12 months: Almost to the day, I felt an internal "switch" turn on and it was as if the world got lighter and brighter. I describe it the same way my friend who has clinical depression does the day she felt serotonin again through meds, only I wasn't on anything, and have never been clinically depressed. I had the sense that my body was telling me she had turned the corner, she was succeeding in overcoming the toxin, there was now more good cells than bad- I know this is esoteric in a way, but I want you to know the whole story.
It has been just over 2 years since I felt that switch. I continue to have phantom symptoms that rear up and surprise me for a moment before I remember that I likely still have Botox in my cells (my biologist Dad confirmed this) and that certain things will trigger a release and my body will react like: upper respiratory viruses, caffeine, too much alcohol, gluten, and stress. Or the lovely round of Prednisone needed for poison ivy that I caught last fall, which brought out two mild panic attacks, the center of my legs buzzing, and body tremors, all of which I thought were well behind me.
What I have learned: Botox did change me from the inside out. I was never an anxious person or introverted or depressed or questioned my sanity- ever, but I do now. I even researched mental illnesses, because I felt so different in my brain. I have to be careful what I eat and drink and I hate it because I love food and coffee and wine- the alternative though is worse than missing out, so I am 95% decaf and gluten free. I am working towards less wine in my life. I have accepted that I will have to age gracefully, as my grandmother did, yet I still have days where it is hard to see all the beautiful 40-somethings on social media and in my friend group without wrinkles. I worry that I will be the only one aging and looking unattractive by comparison. I struggle with this daily and have a face cream/mask/peel addiction now, (Hanacure anyone?) but I try to have a sense of humor about my own vanity. Then, perhaps the most important lesson of all, is that prayer works in the mundane- but especially in the hardest moments. I will finish my novel with this-
My rock bottom moment was when I had yet another panic attack, my legs wouldn't hold me up, I was having vertigo and was supposed to take my daughter then age 4 to a birthday party. We were very late and I had promised her that we go. I had let her down so many times while being sick. I was determined. I had made up my mind to get ready and take her, yet I was unable to walk- forget about driving. I was bitterly angry and beside myself. I remember sobbing on the floor face down thinking, I wanted to die. I started praying. I asked God to make me better just for the day like a normal, happy, chatty mom at a birthday party. Make me like I was before all of this happened- just for the day, for my daughter, I asked- "Please help me do this for her?"
That day is a little bit of a blur now- but it shines in my Botox story like a beacon- my body with no symptoms, running in grass barefoot, piggy-backing my daughter and laughing. A feeling a, deep peace that I can't explain. I am beyond thankful for God in my life.
Thank you for letting me share. I have never typed all this out. I hope my story brings one of you hope that things will get better, albeit slowly. I would never have thought being so sick could bring good to anything, but if my story has helped, then it has.