05/08/2013 02:13 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

To Botox or Not to Botox -- That Is the Question

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I have spent this last year focusing on myself in a series I wrote about turning 50. But, I got carried away and became a little too self-absorbed. I made a mistake. A huge mistake. Warning signs should have been noted but I kept plowing forward. I got botoxed! It is almost like being punked by yourself.


I saw a Botox deal, $84.00 for 20 units of botox, on one of those Deals-of-the-Day sites and thought, why not, I know so many women (and men) who have had it done. I had no idea how much 20 units were but I thought that sounded like a lot. When I went for my appointment the plastic surgeon's office was clean, well appointed and was in Newport Beach, California -- one of the plastic surgery capitals in the states. I knew I was in the right place when both of the assistants appeared that they took advantage of their employee discount (warning sign). They welcomed me as a new patient and assured me that I was going to love the results!

I sat and completed the basic form and handed them my deal voucher. As I am waiting, I see a woman go behind the counter to talk to one of the assistants. I thought that this must be one of their gold-star members. Giving her the once over, I assess her looks. Definitely fake boobs. Butt lift? I am sure. Hair extensions and not a natural blonde, for sure. Nose job? Not sure, but definitely other forms of plastic surgery, botox and teeth veneers.

My name is called and I am informed that the nurse is ready for me. What, no doctor? (warning sign). I am escorted down the hall and lo and behold, the real-life barbie is the nurse! (huge warning sign). She shows me her teeth in what I am pretty sure was meant to be a smile (why am I not getting these warning signs by now?) and asks me what I want done. I explain that I am getting deep grooves below my eyes on the side of my cheeks. and vertical lines above my upper lip. She looks closely and concurs those are definitely my problem spots and adds that my forehead should also be a concern to me. She informs me that to get the complete work done I will need at least 40 units. Say what? I opt to focus on my upper lip and below the eyes.

She explains the process. One needle, three units per injection and three injections per eye. Same needle with two units per injection and two injections for the lips ( I was charged for the extra units). I was warned that there could be slight bruising around the eyes. I was also warned that with the lip botox I may slur my words (warning) and that I may drool. Say what? Drool? But I will look better, right? She assured me I will look as natural as she does (How did I miss this warning sign?).

She starts with my left eye. Not bad. A little prick and release three times. Hmmm, second eye that little prick hurt a bit. I mentioned this to the nurse and she states that the needle starts to get a bit dull. She explains that the lip will hurt a bit more because it is more sensitive. I asked if it made sense to do the lip first next time so the needle was nice and sharp. A look in the mirror showed a few needle marks and a bit of blood from the entry wounds above the lip. The nurse suggests that I move my face by opening my mouth wide and move it around and by lifting my eyebrows up and down. The whole process took about 15 minutes. I left wondering if anyone I came across would notice I had "work" done.

Over the course of the next few days, I could feel the numbness spread around my eyes and upper lip. The lines had definitely disappeared and when my face was relaxed I thought I looked pretty good. The drooling was minimal (I am sure no one noticed) and it was almost impossible to sip out of a straw, but who needed to anyway.

My birthday was approaching and friends were planning on taking me out to celebrate. I was looking forward to looking my best with my new face and I wondered if anyone would ask if I had work done! Lots of pictures were taken and, aghast, instead of looking youthful and free spirited, I looked horrible! What happened? In all the photos, I looked dazed with this weird sneer on my face! I could never open my mouth completely for a smile. My eyes looked wide-eyed, which gave me a startled appearance.

I went home and stood in front of the mirror to practice smiling with my new face. The next morning, I had my 9-year-old daughter take pictures of me so I could see the results to all the practice smiles I worked on. I still did not look natural. I decided the best thing was not to smile, but then I just looked sad. Ugh! I tried opening my mouth when posing for photos (Oprah style) but that only made me look like I was trying to say something. I tried to smile and show no teeth but that made me look like I was grimacing.

More get-togethers, parties and a high school reunion, and more pictures where I did not look natural in one single one of them. I was told that the botox would last about three months. I was starting to count down the days until my beloved wrinkles would return and I would no longer slur, drool or sneer.

Gradually, my body absorbed the botulism and my face (and I) breathed a sigh of relief. I was amazed that only one friend noticed and asked me if I had botox. She then blatantly told me that I should get a refund. None of my other friends commented and I started to wonder if they did, in fact, notice and were trying to be polite.

Thankfully, I only had 20 units of botox injected into my face. Can you imagine if I went for the full 40 unit special? So, for now on, I will embrace my wrinkles (and those yet to come) thank-you-very-much.