I have a serious case of drug trial FOMO (fear of missing out). I just completed my year-long Tirasemtiv drug trial. I don’t know whether I was on the placebo or active drug. However, I have been invited to join the open-label extension of the clinical trial. That would mean I definitely would have an active dose. Meanwhile, the company that created Tirasemtiv is applying for FDA approval at this very moment. I take all of this information to mean that the medication worked: it preserved strength in the diaphragm, preventing a decline in lung function. In that case, being in the open-label trial is a great opportunity because I will have the drug immediately and keep my lungs from deteriorating.
There is a complication, though. If I join the open-label extension, I will take Tirasemtiv for the rest of my life as a way to research long-term safety of the medication. The open-label extension also requires that I not participate in any other trials. There is a trial coming up in April that I have been excited about, but is it promising enough to give up Tirasemtiv? It would help if I knew how well Tirasemtiv works, but I don’t think that is clear yet, even to the research team. I do know that throughout the study, my lung function did not decline at all. So is Tirasemtiv the safe bet?
Reading the news, it seems that possible cures are being found more and more quickly. Tirasemtiv is a treatment, not a cure. Let’s hop back to the experiment I mentioned that will take place in April. That one might be a cure. How can I turn my back on that? It seems like if I play it safe, I could be excluding myself from something miraculous. On the other hand, if the drug trial in April fails, I will have given up lung protection for nothing.
The original plan was to protect my lungs at all costs no matter the collateral damage, and that way, when the cure comes, my vital functions will be strong enough for me to properly heal. And what is this collateral damage? It is pain. For the past year, I have chosen pain in order to be in this trial. Being on Tirasemtiv means I cannot safely take Zanaflex, the medication that completely erases my spasms and muscle cramps. Instead, I am on a cocktail of a narcotic (Vicodin), a controlled substance anxiety medication called Clonazepam, and the muscle relaxer Baclofen. Evan also massages Bengay all over my limbs when my cramps get bad. Plus, I have a sizeable stash of medical marijuana (60% CBD) that is also working to loosen my joints and muscles. That is the price of my involvement in the study, and I will continue to pay it if I join open-label.
Just like the structure of this narrative has spiraled into dizzying circles, my thoughts are a tornado. It hops throughout my imagination, stirring up awful and wonderful scenarios. It rips through my sleep, and there is no seller with Aunty Em waiting to make it all better. I’m Dorothy out in the storm dreaming of Oz with no idea how to get there.