JANUARY 9th, 2018
The first time I had botox, I had no idea what to expect.
I also had no idea what to wear.
I fussed and ironed, and finally settled on a white high collared blouse, grey pants and black leather booties with gold buttons down the ankle. Holy shit I’m getting botox today. I straightened my hair. I picked up the mascara, and quickly set it down because I was afraid I might cry when the needle pierced my throat.
By the time I arrived at the clinic my blouse was wrinkled, my boots were salty, and my hair was a halo of static. I dumped my bulky winter gear on the chair beside Cait’s desk and pulled out my wallet.
“What if you don’t go through with it?" She said as she hugged the debit machine.
“Let’s just wait in case you change your mind.”
“You’re sweet, Cait, but I’ve been coming here for almost 2 years.
It’s time to take the plunge.”
I paid and took a seat. My mind raced with questions: Will the injection hurt? Will After-Botox-Me be better than Before-Botox-Me? Will I faint, or worse, will I fart while I’m out cold on the floor? Just then, the guy who received the first half of my botox bottle appeared around the corner. I almost waved him down to say, “Hey, we’re sharing the same bottle of botox. High five!” But his red face and watery eyes were glued to the floor and he tripped over his feet on the way out the door.
A few minutes later, my formidable Botoxer zoomed out of his office and smacked his hands together.
“Hey. You ready?”
I leaped out of my chair and said, “Yep, you bet. Let’s do this.”
He led me into the room with the marble table, white leather chairs and my Ear Nose and Throat doctor, also known as my ENT. He gave us a nod and continued to assemble his tray. I shimmied back into the huge, leather chair, surrounded by computer screens and poking and prodding machines. On the back counter, I spied boxes of chocolate leftover from the Christmas holidays.
My ENT crouched on the stool, syringe in hand. I reared my head back. Metallic freezing spray shot up my nose and trickled down the back of my throat. I swallowed. I wrinkled my face and thrust my hand out for a tissue. My ENT gave me the box, which stayed on my lap for the rest of the procedure.
He picked up a black tube and slowly slid it into my left nostril.
“Hmmm, narrow nasal passage. Oh yeah, I remember that ''he mumbled."
My tummy flipped. Will the tube get stuck? I felt it nudge me as it went down my throat. No one warns professional singers about how often tubes will assault our faces. I sat as still as I could. I held my breath. Freezing solution dripped onto my vocal cords. I managed not to kick anyone.
“Uck! That tastes awful. It tastes like Marzipan!”
They burst into laughter. “We have never heard that one before.”
It took a minute or two for my cords to go numb. My ENT pulled out the second tube. This one had a camera inside of it. My Botoxer, also known as my Speech Pathologist, stood over top of us. He gave me one last look and switched his focus to the needle. His eyes lasered in on the screen above me. I looked straight ahead.
It took two clicks to paralyze my vocal cords. It would last three months. I asked them if they had any left for my forehead.
I grabbed a wad of tissues to wipe my eyes and runny nose, stood up quickly and walked across the room to get my coat and bag. I thought I was fine. Until my eardrums were suddenly underwater and I plunked myself down in a chair that almost rolled away from me. My Speech Path steadied the chair saying, “The swelling will only last thirty minutes, Marce. It feels worse than it is. Just breathe through your nose, slowly.” My ENT suggested I sit in the lobby for a while. “I can't,” I choked out. “I teach singing lessons in an hour. I have to pay for that needle.”
“Once the swelling goes down, your voice will go back to normal. It takes twelve hours before the silence kicks in.” I nodded and zipped up my coat. I waved to Cait and squeaked a goodbye to my Speech Path who said,“Call us if you need anything. Anything. I mean it.”
After-Botox-Me didn’t look very different in the elevator, but my body screamed a different story. I tugged at my scarf. I choked when I tried to swallow. I needed the elevator doors
As I left the main lobby, a blast of cold air hit me. I unzipped my coat, removed my
scarf and let January into my lungs.
On the escalator down to the subway I found myself trapped between puffy coats
and backpacks. The train rolled into the station. It was crammed with people, but I
got a seat. The doors shut. And so did my windpipe. Where was that card with the
phone number on it? I needed it in my hand in case I passed out. Tears pooled in
my eyes. The phlegm in my throat was as thick as hot wax sealed on a jar of jam. I
needed to cough. I needed to spit. I had to remember to breathe through my nose. I
couldn’t think of anything else.
Finally, there was daylight and I had cell phone reception. My phone buzzed.
“Hey! Wanna’ be my date for the Schitt’s Creek Premiere at Roy Thomson Hall tonight?
There’ll be food...”
Damn. I dug out my last tissue. I tried to be subtle while spitting twenty minutes of panicky phlegm into my hand. I snuck the soggy tissue into my pocket. I’d evaluate the consequences of my actions later. This botox thing would take some getting used to.
“Ugh. You KNOW I would if I could but, I have to teach,” I texted.
My friend said something like, “But Catherine O’Hara really wanted to meet you!” because that’s the kind of person she is. I, on the other hand, had no idea who I was anymore. But at least I hadn't thought about my mother’s death for two hours.