On being a test bunny: Part I

I’ve never been part of a clinical trial, until now.

Medical test bunny aimee
Medical test bunny aimee

I smoke.  I’ve been a moderate to heavy, (and very happy), smoker for about 8 years.  Which habit has resulted, variously, in: a couple of fillings; blood pressure that’s gone from being so low I used to be blind for the first 30 seconds after getting up every morning, to being normal; the loss of my once substantial lung capacity; and rather a lot of money literally set on fire.

And I’ve tried to quit a few times, but my heart’s never really been in it, to be honest.

So what’s changed?

Well, the principal reason is that I’m on a serious health kick at the moment, and a) cigarettes are tasting increasingly yucky* and b) all that exercise will help with the withdrawal symptoms (which, last time I attempted this, were baaaaad**).

Oh yes, and: I’ve never been part of a clinical trial, so there’s some level of scientific curiosity about the process, and I figured it would be cool to help out on an NZ-based one, which has already had pretty good results.

What’s the trial for?  Something called Zonnic.  It’s a mixture of spray and patch: the patch is designed to keep the body happy with a low level of continuous nicotine, and the spray’s for those craving moments, as it gets absorbed relatively quickly (a few minutes****).  The trial’s being run by the University of Otago, and they’re using people from Wellington, Christchurch and the Kokiri Marae (Porirua area).

Today, I trundled through to the UoF Wellington campus by Wellington hospital for the initial visit.  I got asked a LOT of questions about my smoking behaviour and how I felt about the habit, and they took a bunch of vital statistics.  My blood pressure was a little high, but I’m putting that down to the pot of strong coffee I’d mainlined shortly before, and the two cigarettes on the way there.

And I got given my schedule and products, as follows:

- I’ve got three weeks to completely stop.  I was provided with a suggested schedule for the next three weeks on this reduction of the smokings, and also given the advice that if I have to smoke, I should try not to do so in my accustomed environments/times etc.

- I also received 8 weeks’ worth of the spray and the nicotine patches (of which I’m on medium strength - I reckoned the strongest ones would actually increase my nicotine addiction).  One patch a day, and the spray whenever I have a craving.  It helps that the spray’s _seriously_ nommy (pepper and mint, quite burny).  In total, I’ll get 5 months’ worth of patches, and 6 months’ worth of spray, and the trial lasts a year.

And then, in 7 weeks’ time, I go back.  After that, I see ‘em every 3 months or so.  Of course, since this is a clinical trial, it’s entirely likely I’ve received a placebo…

Oh yes, and I have to fill out a little card which shows my cigarette/spray usage every day.  Fun!

I’ll be trying to document, at least to some extent, how it does and what happens.  With a bit of luck, it might even work!

Medical test bunny aimee when the serious cravings hit.  Note: will _not_ be feeling in the pink.
Medical test bunny aimee when the serious cravings hit. Note: will _not_ be feeling in the pink.

Join me!

They’re still looking for people in all three centres, so give it a bash. /exhorts


* Also, I’ve been jokingly claiming that continuing to smoke is like high altitude training.  While,  since I’ve given up all my other vices, loudly proclaiming that I wanted to keep just one.

** For the first week, I got one night’s sleep out of five, resulting in ‘loopy*** aimee’.  AND I put on a metric buttload (harhar) of weight. Note for Americans and other alien lifeforms: we don’t use the Imperial system down here, as it makes absolutely no sense (yes, I shamelessly co-opted Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett there).

**** Cigarette goodness takes a few _seconds_.

*** Ok, fine.  Loopier than normal.