Botox Cures Woman's Case of Crying While Eating

"It's something that I've never seen," said Barbara Coslow, a nurse practitioner at William Beaumont Hospital, in Royal Oak, Mich., who also works with patients who have Guillain-Barre.

The first sign of Webster's condition came in April 1991 in the form of extremely bad headaches. The headaches worsened, and with them came the paralysis of other muscles throughout her body.

"I had three months in the hospital when I was totally paralyzed," Webster recalled, adding that she also suffered from a condition known as blepharospasm, which affected the muscles of her eyes.

"The muscles either decided to clamp shut, which would render me temporarily blind, or they would not shut at all," she said. "The nurses would have to put tape from my eyelids down onto my cheek in order to hold my eyelids shut."

Incorrect Brain Signals

While she eventually became well enough to leave the hospital, the mixed and incorrect signals between her brain and the tiny nerves in her face posed lingering problems. "It was like my nerves were being short-circuited," Webster said.

When her eye problems were at their worst, she said, her tear ducts would become easily blocked, leading her to appear as if she "had been punched in both eyes."

This appearance, combined with the tears that streamed forth whenever Webster ate, took a dramatic toll on her social life.

"This was very socially isolating for her because she couldn't go out for dinner or anything like that," Gurney, the nurse practitioner, said.

Webster said, "Before I went into the hospital, I was gregarious. When I came out of the hospital, it was quite the contrary; I was quite withdrawn."

After the Tears: Getting Back to Normal Life

These days, Webster must visit the clinic every 12 to 20 weeks for a repeat injection. And the treatment is not without its risks; Gurney said she is reluctant to treat patients like Webster too often with Botox injections into the tear gland because injecting too often can lead to scarring.

But Michigan's Coslow said that there is little debate that Botox injections can help many of those who struggle with Guillain-Barre, even if it is only a temporary measure.

"Many times, we do therapy along with it," Coslow said. "This could provide some benefit while the body is healing and until [patients] get normal function back."

And, for Webster, the treatment offered nothing short of a chance to live a more normal life.

"It totally changed everything," she said. "Suddenly, I could do many of the normal things I had before."

"I wish my whole person would change back to what it used to be."

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