I took the plunge and got the Botox injections this morning. The anesthetic injections I got on Feb. 4 did end up helping noticeably - I could eat more foods, sing a hymn in church without pain, etc. So I felt like I really needed to give the Botox a try. But I mean, ouch. It hurt even worse than the last ones because he had to go in twice on each side. I hyperventilated and got light-headed and had to lie down. Not fun.
After that I had an appointment with the pain clinic's pain psychologist. I didn't really know what to expect but the insurance covers seeing her so I figured I had nothing to lose. It ended up being an incredible experience. She did an experiment with me hooked up to a heart monitor. It registered my heart rate on her computer and was looking at something she called heart-mind coherence - this was new to me and I'm not sure I fully understand it, but she said that my coherence was very low, which is normal. Then she had me close my eyes and she took me through a deep breathing exercise, visualizing the breath going out through my feet, legs, etc. When she got to the heart, it triggered something and tears just started streaming down my cheeks. I told her I was OK to go on, so she had me really focus on slowing my breathing by using a count (five counts in, five counts out). Then she had me stop and look at the computer. She showed me how my coherence was going up at the beginning of the exercise, and at the point when she first got to the heart it was all the way at the top of the scale. But then it went all the way down, at the point when I was crying. As I was doing the counting and breathing it was on its way up again. I admit, I was skeptical of what any sort of mind-body work would really do for me. But seeing it there on the computer completely took that away. It was amazing.
We talked some more after that about what she thinks I should do. She said that my jaw is holding all of my tension because that is "my place" - meaning that with singing that is where my energy comes out, and with stress that is where the energy is held. She recommends that I do their mindfulness stress reduction course, which involves meditation and light yoga. If I can find the time and the money ($350) I think I will do it. After all of this I'm feeling a little more hopeful today.