Blepharospasm: Blink.Blink, Wink?

He thought I winked at him!
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The typical question would always be, “Did you try Visine”? Duh, isn't that what any normal person would try before heading to a specialist? After being diagnosed-with every conclusion being you have dry eye or it’s just your nerves, I felt helpless and afraid- and still no solution.

I'd never had this happen to me before and I certainly never heard of anyone else having this. I could not see. Well, let me re-phrase that. I could see if I held the corner of my eyes open with my fingers. There was a gravel feeling in my eyes and I was overly sensitive to light. My eyes would squeeze shut as if in spasm.

 Working became increasingly difficult with the onset of each day knocking into filling cabinets and getting bruises.  I tried everything not to look like something was wrong and it became very evident that I was sending mixed signals when one particular day the blinking was out of control and someone winked at me.  I thought to myself, “He thought I winked at him!” I was so embarrassed and would try from then on to avoid looking at anyone.

 With each day, it became worse and little by little my sight was being taken away from me by the closing of my eyes. I had given up driving and had to be driven to and from work. All responsibilities of running a household had to be taken over by my husband.

When my right cheek started to spasm and pull, I thought it was time to try and find another specialist. Maybe this time they would have answers for what my symptoms were.  I can't tell you the relief that flowed through me when my new specialist walked in and made a comment that he'd never seen this in someone of my age.  He said that Benign Essential Blepharospasm is usually seen in elderly people and I was only thirty six years old.

Blepharospasms are caused by a nerve in the center of the brain that controls the nerves around the eyes and forehead. Finally someone had a name for my blinking and winking.  He also said that the pulling on my face was Hemifacial Spasms.  Everything that was explained was believed to be brought about by anxiety.

 My choices for dealing with this disease were either removing all the nerves in my forehead so it wouldn't affect my eyes (which could be disfiguring), or receive Botulinum injections which is purified botulism which was a scary thought. 

 I took the name of an Ophthalmologist who introduced me to Botox (Botulinum Toxin Type A) injections. You know the stuff that people pay a lot to look younger?  Of course when I started receiving it, it was only used for disease and paid for by insurance.  I remember worrying if the insurance companies would continue to pay for it if it was in such high demand for cosmetic reasons.

I started receiving injections twice a month. Depending on the severity of the twitches, they decided where and how many injections I would receive. The usual places were across my forehead, in my upper and lower eye lids and in my cheeks. Today, I would consider myself in remission after receiving a few years of treatment and keeping anxiety to a minimum. The plus is that I'm 20 years older and still look 36 >grin<. I wanted to share my story with others who don’t know why they blink, blink, wink?


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