I posted back in March that I had finally been offered botox as a treatment for my chronic intractable migraine, after trying about a gazillion other medications. The usual protocol is to repeat the treatment every three months and it is usually only after the second or third treatment that a significant impact is seen (if it works at all – for some people it makes no difference). But we all know what had happened by the end of March. Total lockdown, almost all ‘non-urgent’ medical appointments were cancelled and those of us with chronic illnesses were left waiting for things to start up again.
Finally, they did, and I just returned from my second round of botox (which, given the long gap, technically takes us back to square one in terms of treatment). The treatment itself was much the same as last time – 30+ injections to my face, head and neck – it bloody hurt. But I thought I would write a bit about the experience itself, of visiting a hospital when we are still in the midst of COVID-19.
I have been pretty much shielding since the beginning of lockdown as I am worried about what impact an illness like COVID-19 may have on my ME, and given the increasing numbers of people with ‘long haul covid’ or ‘post-covid fatigue’, I think I was right to be concerned. The symptoms that people are experiencing are scarily similar to how my ME started after a brief infection and it is starting to look like a significant minority are just failing to recovery properly.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that many patients who recovered from the acute phase of the SARS-CoV-2 infection have persistent symptoms. This includes clouding of mentation, sleep disturbances, exercise intolerance, and autonomic symptoms.Long-Haul COVID, World Neurology, August 18 2020
For nearly 6 months now, like many others, my life has revolved around avoiding COVID-19. So although I was happy to be restarting treatment, going into a hospital definitely felt…risky.
The experience, though, was pretty reassuring:
- I had to wear a mask, naturally, and I didn’t see a single other person without one
- You are advised not to arrive early and to not bring anyone with you so there were only two of us in the waiting room, sitting on opposite sides
- Only a handful of chairs were available for use and once you were called in for your appointment you had to place a plastic circle on the chair you had used, so they know to clean it before someone else used it
- Antibacterial gel was available EVERYWHERE so anytime I touched a surface etc I could immediately disinfect (and I was VERY aware of what I was touching!)
- The first time I had the treatment there were four people in the room with me. This time, just the one (no idea what the other three were doing if I’m honest 🤷♂️)
In hindsight I felt safer in the hospital than I do going into shops (which I have still only done about 5 times since lockdown started). They seem to have got their systems locked down and everything possible is in place to keep people safe. Now I am just hoping I can continue treatment in three months and finally get some respite from these bloody migraines..