My Right Arm Is Going to Look Really Young

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by John Connor |

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I’ve just received four intramuscular Botox injections in my right arm to relieve the muscle spasticity that comes with multiple sclerosis. (OK, it wasn’t actually Botox, but Dysport, or abobotulinumtoxinA, another medication derived from the botulinum toxin to block muscle contractions.)

And “my right arm is going to look really young” is the gag I’ve been cracking ever since the treatment was proposed to me by my spasticity neurologist two months ago. So when I told the bunch of comedians I’d assembled for our now annual outing of my comedy show “The Edge” about the “Botox,” they scrambled to deliver exactly the same gag.

As comics, they didn’t quite believe me when I told them that they were in fact two months too late.

We were actually a laid-back group, happily downing complimentary drinks and food, as I ran our “creative meeting” pre-show. It’s something I’ve been doing for over 30 years now, though I’d thought I’d never do it again. It was fun to be back, and I felt enormously better than my attempt last year. But then, I had only been out of the hospital a month after suffering from cellulitis.

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Maybe it was also the Dysport. It had been a week, and I could even type a bit with the aid of my right hand. (In fact, it has required a bit of effort, but I just managed this lot in italics.) This was something that had been completely impossible for, at least, over two years.

My doctor took great delight in informing me that the Dysport had been developed at Porton Down, the U.K.’s highly secretive germ warfare laboratory. In fact, it’s the closest we’ve got to Area 51. Unless we’ve got an Area 51 that is, you know, really secret. Bad luck, Yanks.

Dysport treatment | Multiple Sclerosis News Today | A photo of John holding a box of Dysport inside a plastic bag.

The strand of botulism that was injected into my arm was first isolated in Porton Down, the U.K.’s highly secretive germ warfare laboratory, in 1946. Doubt they did it for “armless” purposes! (Photo by John Connor)

I countered with this: Do you know it was created during World War I? He did. Spoilsport.

Anyway, I do get to tell youse lot. A very clever German scientist named Fritz Haber led a team called “the Disinfection Unit” to introduce poison gas to the battlefield at Ypres, in modern Belgium, in 1915. He’s also remembered for creating the fixing of nitrogen, which led to artificial fertilizer and saved the future, fast-growing human population from starvation. Something of a dichotomy.

The British hastily set up Porton Down to create countermeasures. Love a historical diversion. All roads lead to Rome. See — even more history.

My arm is no longer clasped across my chest like I was impersonating Napoleon (soz, I can’t stop) and now at least looks relatively normal. Though its range has increased massively compared with before, it still is extremely limited.

I managed to use it briefly to hold a fork at the dinner table. Still couldn’t eat with it, though.

And there’s absolutely no chance of my right hand passing the salt. Or if I spill it, shaking it over my shoulder to ward off the devil.

Fortunately, as I’m an atheist, he’s not there.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Patricia P. Garrett avatar

Patricia P. Garrett

Totally Useful information! I cannot wait to share with my support group.


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