Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My LIfe as a Guinea Pig

The ad that launched my new career.

In early Summer, I ran across the above advertisement in our local paper. Take lots of pain medication?  Suffer from constipation because of the side-effects of the opiod pain relievers?  Hey, that's me!  I called the clinic in the ad and after a bunch of questions, they said I'd likely be a good candidate.  My motivation to drive or ride across town and spend hours with these folks?  Wasn't to serve mankind, it was the $50 a visit they were offering (with $75 for one half-day session).  I had to delay the start of this process as we were travelling during the Summer.  Come September, I showed up for my initial appointment with the clinic.  The "research company" was running a number of these sort of studies, and had taken over a wing of the CSHP facility out at Barnes and Powers, so it is a bit of a journey for me over on the Westside.  The drug being investigated was methyltrexaline.  This is a "narcotic antagonist" that negates the effects of opiod medications.  It's been used for years to help addicts withdraw from narcotics.  The "methyl" version of this drug works in the body but can't cross the blood-brain barrier to work in the brain to take away the pain-relieving action of the drugs I use to deal with my chronic pain. The idea is that it would block the constipating action of the opiod in the gut but NOT the pain-relieving effect in the brain. I have been dealing with serious pain for years, following a broken back in 1996.  This problem was then made much worse following that septic coma, after the botched gall bladder removal at Penrose Hospital in 2008. I take a fair amount of powerful drugs....

 They drew a number of blood tubes, did an EKG, took a lengthly history and generally poked and prodded me for a couple of hours.  The time spent there was made easier by the fact that the staff was a trio of young, bright (and really cute) women.  After the labs were processed, they called and said I was "Good to go".  I reported back in for the "long visit", where I would get the first dose of the experimental medication and we'd "see what happened".  There were three groups, a "control" group that got a placibo.  There were two other groups - one got "X amount" of the test drug, the other group got "2X" of the drug.  I'm pretty sure I was in the "2X" group.  After an hour or so, I was really gurgling and rumbling.  The issue of constipation was a distant memory as I made several dashes from the room I was assigned to the clinic bathroom!  This went on for three hours or so.  Finally, as the clinic closed down, I left for  home.  I was given a Palm Pilot type of computer to record health and bowel activity data every day.  I took the test drug every morning and without fail, found myself having to stay REAL close to the house bathroom for several hours, every day.  The cramps weren't any fun either.  Finally, after a week of spending 1/3 to 1/2 of my daytime hours in or near our bathroom, I called the clinic and bailed out of the test program.  They didn't seem surprised at all and I made one follow up visit to de-brief and give them back the equipment.  This methyltrexaline has been researched for at least ten years for this use and still remains off the market.  I left the experiment feeling that using HALF the dose I was taking, WHEN I had a constipation problem, would be a reasonable way to go.  I made a couple hundred dollars and had an interesting experience.  Got a thourough physical work up in the process.  One more line on the resume!

(Told you this Blog would cover more than homeless issues!)

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