Friday, May 1, 2009


Yesterday, my blood pressure came in at 90 over 64 -- nowhere near convincing me that I'm mistaken about having been randomized into the placebo group.

That leaves me with the absurdity of sitting down on my bed each evening before sleep, getting out a formidable white bottle marked brivanib OR placebo, and swallowing four big pills. (Kathy also believes/knows she's in the placebo group; her take on swallowing the probably inert pills was something like "these taste like smarties." I laughed; it beats driving a fist through the wall.)

I've looked at the bottles closely; no clues, no A or B or 0 or 1 at the end of a reference number that might indicate the contents. The pills themselves look and feel the same. I notice -- or think I have -- that the presumed-placebo brivanib pills soften in my mouth quicker than the real deal did; if I don't wash them down quickly, which isn't the easiest thing since they are the size and shape of torpedos, the pills develop a gluey quality. The first time this happened, I thought, "Paste eater!" to myself. (I think that might have been a bizarre insult hurled by a nasty schoolgirl in one of the Lemony Snicket series of unfortunate events books.)

I wonder, but I could just cheat the study. I received a full bottle of real brivanib just as my lung problems started to ramp up. No one confiscated them during or after my hospitalization. I could swap out a pill -- since I imagine the brivanib in my possession will be destroyed when I return it -- and fool around with it and definitively see if there are any differences with what I'm taking now. I could have even, I suppose, taken the real pills instead of the placebo this go 'round, though I wouldn't want any tumor-smashing success mistakenly attributed to the paste pills. I'm also way too much of a goody-goody to break any rules, so the point is moot even though I look at my bagged bottle of the real stuff longingly.

I know this is an inert post (albeit with accidental bonus bad jokes), but it's hard not to get obsessed with this kind of stuff if you are in a placebo-controlled trial. It's hard, even, to leave it behind when you know you are no longer on drug. So chalk this one up for the other folks in the brivanib study who are dealing with this now or may have to deal with it in the future.


Anonymous said...

"Cake eater!"

Something from Magnolia would probably cheer you up at least for a moment right about now, if only.

Elsa D. said...

aghhhhhh and it is so hard to swallow the gigantic pills.