Although it was my intention to be humorous hen I titled yesterday's post 'medicinal hiatus', I was actually only half joking. Many people knowingly joke about the beneficial effects of the copious amounts of alcohol the consume in order to give themselves a licence for doing so - and indeed there are studies which show the good that a glass of wine or two can do for one's physical health. My object here is not, however, either to justify or to discredit the beliefs which surround the positive nature of booze. I merely wish to provide a slightly unusual perspective on such matters.
Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while, or who knows me personally, will be aware that I have spasms. They may also be aware that these spasms are provoked by fear. This fear is often associated with stress, but it goes deeper than that, stemming from a fundamental feeling of instability which is neurological as well as emotional. Furthermore, my cerebral palsy means that the information crossing my synapses is often incorrect, so I am left feeling unstable most of the time, however safe I might be in reality. This instability causes me to tighten up and spasm, which in turn causes yet more instability - and creates a situation which can be solved in two ways. The first of these is to treat the symptom, the spasms, which is what happens when I have botox. I receive injections that paralyse the offending muscles, and which then allow me to build up others with the aim of regaining stability. All well and good - except the botox wears off after three months, and I frequently find myself back at square one, not having passed go or collected £200, because all the physio I've done becomes impossible as soon as the spasms return. This notwithstanding (terrible pun!), the botox shows me what I can do and has taught me (and the many professionals with whom I work) one crucial lesson, confirming what we supposed - that when my body feels stable, I do not spasm.
The truth of this supposition was reinforced whilst I recovered from one of my earlier rounds of botox, and the sedation (I didn't have anaesthetic in those days) had not quite worn off. I felt well enough to get back into my chair, and Mama sat me up on the edge of the bed in order to help me do so. Then, with a little support from her as she stood in front of me, I got up and stepped over to my chair before swivelling around to perch on the edge, as though this was completely normal. I hadn't stepped (even with help) for some years, and the fluidity of my body amazed us both - but what became clear was that, with the lingering sedation clouding my habitual neurological responses, I wasn't hindered by my usual anxiety and could therefore access the relaxation I had before I developed my spasms as a teenager, along with the subsequent physical ability.
This brings me to the second possible solution - removing the cause, namely my fear. Unfortunately, there is yet to be a form of medication which has such powers...but this is where the alcohol comes in. I drink rarely, and when I do I stick to a little whisky (or 'whiskey', if it's bourbon). The thing is, I notice the same effect. I feel stable after a drink, so I don't spasm. This makes sense, because alcohol reacts chemically in our brain to alter the neurological responses to our environment - it just is slightly more helpful for me that it does so.
I'm working to find a sober equivalent, because I don't want to have alcohol as my only recourse. Twice a month is enough tipsiness for me, having kicked my other 'drugs', like baclofen. I like my mental faculties in tact. For now, though, I'm grateful for the effect it has - it gives me an excuse to be a student!