My CO-1686: Stoke that Appetite!

In my November CO-1686 post, I said, “Henceforth no news will be good news.” Okay, I lied. Today I have news and it’s good news. I’m taking a break from my writing projects and pole dancing classes because I have this overwhelming need to share with folks who give a hoot a NEW information. Of course this could just be like my Coke syrup advice for nausea. I thought it was new and as it turned out, I was the last one to know!

Everything is cool. My nine-week 12/23/2014 CTscans: STABLE; bloods and ECG great. But there’s another story today.

My UCLA Santa Monica clinical trial handlers and I finally figured the right amount of Metformin (1500mg) for my system to counter the hyperglycemic effect of the daily CO-1686 drug (1000mg). My blood glucose readings are now steady – under 100 at fasting and below or around 200 after ingesting food. Every now and then the glucose numbers spike when I get carried away with my sushi and menudo. Stress also causes blood sugar to rise, like the 12/17/2014 bus tour to the Newport Beach Parade of Lights. I could not use the bus restroom because someone had accidentally locked the door from the inside. Then we had to walk two blocks to the boat. The distinct possibility of losing my tour group and the fear of cold wet leggings on a crisp December night sent my coping hormones raging and my glucose numbers through the roof. I did eventually make it to a potty in time but then my body’s defense mechanism had already been traumatized. Otherwise, my steady glucose numbers help maintain the even distribution of 125 pounds in 62″ height.

Beginning the second week of December, my appetite suddenly totally disappeared. I could not eat. What food I managed to swallow by force, I could not hold down. The smell and looks of food became repulsive. Even the pictures of dishes on IHOP’s menu turned my stomach. I swear, if my age were not careening towards 100, I would have suspected I was in the early stages of pregnancy. I wanted to write a post about it but I couldn’t. My face was constantly hanging over the commode.

You see, the modus operandi of Metformin is to tell my brain “There shall be no hunger for this senior babe.” The brain, which sends signals to the digestive system, follows Metformin’s order. Consequently, feeling full all the time became my new normal. I had managed the new normal well until that mother of all appetite losses intruded and kicked me around for two weeks. I longed to crave food and eat with gusto.

“This is not the lifestyle!” my inner Mehitabel admonished, reminding me that I did not sign up for the clinical trials to feel like caca. I decided to take control of my life, which meant giving the trial hot shots some static.

FLASHBACK: Three-week visit 12/10/2014:

I remained seated on the examination table after the bloodletting and ECG. My loving caregiver sat by my side. The Trial Nurse strode in, along with her scribe. Next in came the Physician’s Assistant with a pregnant Nurse-in-Training. Then the Good Doctor. Why were all these people crowding me in the small examination room? But it was okay with me. I love an audience.

“Do you have fatigue?” asked the Trial Nurse.

“No, I don’t,” I answered.

“Do you have pain?”

“None, I’m really quite a feisty heifer.”

Everybody cracked up. When silence fell, I started the conversation on appetite.

“What can we do about my lost appetite?”

“Some people take Prilosec to take care of the acids in the stomach,” the Trial Nurse said.

“I don’t have stomach acid problem and I don’t want any more medicine, prescribed or otherwise.”

Silence again.

Reluctantly, the nurse said, “We can give you appetite drops. You know, medical marijuana, MMJ.”

Marijuana! When I was moderating Tarceva Divas and Dudes, my friend HATRICK from Arizona swore by MMJ as nausea cure. As an engineer in the 1970’s, I remember conversations with draftsmen who said they ate like horses when they were smoking marijuana.

“I want those drops!” I exclaimed, startling the audience.

“We can do that,” the Good Doctor chimed in. “I don’t give prescriptions for MMJ but I’ll write a letter.”

My eyes lit up.

“She’s already excited,” said the Trial Nurse. Everybody laughed.

“And don’t be emailing me about it, Celia,” the Doc warned the Pulitzer-Prize-dreaming writer.

“But what if in a moment of sheer ecstasy, I find a crying need to gush about it?” I wanted to ask the question but decided not to. I did not want him to envision me overdosing on appetite drops.

Done deal. Got the letter addressed “To whom it may concern.” It described in medical vocabulary my drug-induced hunger strike. Based on my Google University Oncology degree, I translated it to “Celia wants to experience hunger again. I’m giving her permission to use other methods.”

I had to present the Good Doctor’s letter to a board-certified MMJ Doctor. I didn’t know they exist – medical doctors specialized in marijuana! I noticed there’s only a handful of them in practice in Los Angeles. Maybe the rest are in prison. I paid a $100 consult fee to the MMJ doctor. He explained the differences of marijuana strains, dosage, and how he used to trick his mother about his marijuana use during his college days. In conclusion, he gave me a signed and sealed letter for presentation to the marijuana dispensary of my choice. This MMJ business is very tightly controlled!

Having no personal experience with marijuana, I returned to Google University to audit some courses, which led me to a master’s degree in Cannabis Technology. In my search for MMJ dispensaries, I learned of one located just outside my gated community. But then I found out it only did “Home Deliveries,” like the mail order business that promises “discreet home delivery” of sex toys. So I’ve read. The MMJ store probably did not want patients forming a line that snakes around the block. Or maybe it’s the law.

The MMJ dispensary’s delivery man, a handsome African American – think young Muhammad Ali – came to my condo. Like the Arab merchant who spreads precious gems on the plush rug at the foot of the wife of the sultan of Brunei for her selection, Muhammad meticulously laid out his goodies on my dinner table – drops, truffles, fudge, candies, cookies, grass. He explained how long before each one took effect, to which I replied, “Muhammad, read my lips: I want hunger, not high.”

He took a picture of Cannabis MD’s letter for his file. I signed a form that said I had just joined a “collective.” Minimum order was $50. A never-smoker of anything, I ordered the appetite drops ($40) and two truffles ($10). I was given a new-customer reward of six gummies ($7). He referred to the $50 as my “donation.” The intrigue was awesome. I felt like I had just been reincarnated as a mistress of Al Capone.

I followed the MMJ instructions applicable to my weight. I squeezed 3/4ths of the dropper liquid under my tongue. According to the expert potheads, it should take effect in 20 minutes. Not knowing what exactly was supposed to happen in 20 minutes, my husband, also of zero-marijuana background, watched, prepared to wrestle me to the floor in case I got out of control. After 20 minutes, I felt a little buzz, then nothing. I had expected to hallucinate on miles of steaming trays of food in an all-you-can-eat buffet. But nothing! The following day, I experimented with half the drops in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. Still nothing other than two short buzzes. I thought, marijuana is overrated. My last chance to re-establish my relationship with food seemed lost forever.

On the third day, disappointment lulled me to sleep. But lo and behold in the middle of the night something happened. A painful hunger cramp yanked me out of my snoring. Hunger pangs on the attack! Only food would calm my stomach. Fortunately I had brought an Ensure drink and Santa Monica Best Western Plus had given me a granola crunch as a token of customer loyalty appreciation. No prime rib dinner gift certificates over there. After I ingested the pathetic food with gusto, sleep returned calmly. I have been eating good since and I have not touched the drops since.

Back to the present.

This is my take on the MMJ adventure. I am a late “reactor.” It took four months before the first CO-1686 side effects hit me. It took three days before MMJ unlocked the brain’s appetite door shut tight by Metformin. There’s no other explanation for the sudden return of my desire for food. Right now I’m thinking beef sweetbreads. Ummmm-umm. I need to direct traffic to the Italian-Argentine store and deli in Mission Viejo.

The point of the story: As a last resort, MMJ works. It has medical basis. Stay on the good side of the law.