The parachoice of docs

I learned a week ago that I might be an eligible subject for NIH research into the use of ketamine for treatment-resistant depression. (Don’t get me started on the idiocy of insisting that a given treatment be an absolute last resort before they’ll try it on someone.) After hours of phone screening, I was accepted into the research program and was looking forward to starting my participation ASAP, even though it would mean giving up all these things:

  • ongoing therapy with my new shrink
  • training on the new software used in the Tax-Aide program
  • (probably) participating as a Tax-Aide counselor
  • spending December and January in a relatively warm place

I thought it would be worth the sacrifice to contribute to medical science while enjoying what was essentially an all-expenses-paid trip to DC. Then, after the arrangements had been made for me to fly to DC on Sunday and check in at NIH on Monday, I got a copy of the patient handbook.

“Your nurse will be present while you unpack to obtain sharp items and other items that may not be maintained in your room…”

“Any personal care items should be in original plastic bottles or tubes. Glass or breakable flower vases are not permitted.”

“For safety reasons, periodic room searches will be performed to assure all sharps, flammable products, and other prohibited items are secured.”

“…you will be expected to do weekly tasks to keep the unit clean and pleasant for everyone.”

“OT provides a Community Meal, which is a weekly activity that includes group planning, shopping for and preparing a lunchtime meal on the unit.”

“Occupational therapy also offers a simulated work experience (volunteer) program to test and refine your ability to engage in productive roles.”

I don’t think I’m nearly sick enough to require all this monitoring and all these special services. Seriously, it would be a waste of their time to do experimental procedures on me when I’m a perfectly sane, healthy individual.

Scared straight, but not quite ready to just say no, I went to my favorite time-wasting activity, hoping to get a sign from the puzzle gods. The first quote I solved was allegedly from Sylvia Plath:

“Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.”

OK, I thought, maybe I am in fact sick enough and have demonstrated this by wanting to participate in research while continuing to do everything else in my life. Whether or not this was in fact written by Plath, it’s a good description of someone who is either bipolar (for realz, not like here) or just very desperate.

Then I tried one more puzzle and got this alleged proverb:

“Better a friendly refusal than an unwilling consent”

Ah, that’s more like it.

Having concluded that I’m not really sick and not really going, I feel much saner and calmer than I have in days. Let’s see if I change my mind again by tomorrow.



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