October 6th, 2005


Experimenting with Drugs

I'm at home after spending an interesting afternoon as a video star. To be specific, the actual video star was the interior of my colon. The endeavor was not without loss; four small polyps were removed, hopefully before they'd developed into cancer. I'll find out about that sometime next week.

The process started a month ago during a routine medical checkup when my doctor asked whether I'd ever had a colonoscopy.

"I had a flexible sigmoidoscopy years ago," I replied, except I muffed the pronunciation of the sig-whatever. That procedure checks only the last few feet of the large intestine. I didn't find it very flexible.

Doc thought it worthwhile to get the whole thing screened for colon cancer. Fortunately, I'm one of the lucky Americans, not yet on Medicare, who have medical insurance that pays for preventative health care. About half of us do, and about half of those that do work for the government. It's interesting that the folks who work for us, the US government, have better health insurance than the rest of us. I guess that is the prevailing interpetation of "Ask not what your country can do for you; rather, ask what you can do for your country."

The preliminary session was two weeks ago. I was given a cursory physical exam and a short tutorial describing the procedure. At the end of the tutotial, the physician's assistant asked whether I wanted to participate in a FDA field study for a new anaesthetic. I volunteered after I learned that they would pay me $120 for my time. This was also after I learned that it was the second trial. The first one proved the superiority of the drug, and the purpose of the second, the one I would be part of, was to fine tune the dose. The PA also gave  me a prescription for some truly vile stuff that would clean me out and would ruin my taste for lemon-lime flavor for a long time.

Participation in the study meant I had to attend another session, this time with their research department. I did that last week. They gave me some cognitive tests, measured my short and long term memory, took some blood and urine, and recorded an electrocardiogram.  All this was done again just before the 'scope job and just afterward. An unexpected side-benefit of the study was additional free medical care.

I hope my $120 is in the mail.