“I’ve been reading your blog” says Dr LaMancha as he slides the needle into my vein. I attempt a sort of “am I bovvered?” nonchalance: I’ve been working on this look since starting my blog three weeks ago, just in case. I suspect, though, that my veneer of cultivated cool is rather undermined by multiple calls to Mum informing her that somebody I don’t know in the Isle of Man has just Liked my blog.
Mum does her best to sound excited, bless her, but as her last brush with new technology ground to a halt when she couldn’t work out how to fit a CD into an i-pod, I suspect she’s humouring me.
Still, having a needle in your arm does focus the mind somewhat. So, I just give a non-committal “Oh yes?” In this case, however, it seems not to have been my timeless prose which has caught the good doctor’s attention.
“I really liked your link to the video about the existential cat,” says Dr LaMancha. “It’s just like my cats.” His eyes mist over. “I watch them on webcams when I’m working late at night.”
It turns out that in order to come here and find a cure for Parkinson’s – good chap – Dr LaMancha has had to leave behind in Spain his three cats. So he Skypes them looking inscrutable. The cats, that is, looking inscrutable. Not Dr LaMancha who, I’m sure, could scrute with the best of them. I ask if he’s heard Eddie Izzard’s sketch about Pavlov’s cat; which hears the bell, raises one eyebrow and utters the feline equivalent of ‘Whatever’ before settling back to sleep.
Anyway, as you might have gathered, I’ve been accepted onto the drugs trial. So for the next six months, I’ll be trotting up to London to be bled, poked and prodded on a weekly basis, all in the cause of figuring out whether deferiprone makes any difference to the progress of Parkinson’s.
Dr LaMancha handed over the drug in the dock: two enormous medicine bottles of – well, medicine, shipped over from Canada for the purpose. “The flavour is not popular with everyone,” he warns.
Not popular? It is foul! It would take more than a singing nanny with a spoonful of sugar to make this medicine go down. Half a bottle of ginger wine, more like.
And there’s a one in three chance, of course, that I am taking a placebo. In which case, someone has especially brewed up a harmless red gunk and then added the foul flavour, just for fun. Seems a bit harsh, even in the interest of science.
Dr LaMancha tells me they hope to start getting some provisional results in the spring. So what with that, and the breakthroughs that are being made in genetic research1, a cure really is getting closer by the day.
And by that time, he hopes to have worked out how to get his cats over from Spain. Fingers crossed for good news all round.