“Now, I have to tell you about the possible complications,” says the Good Doctor. “These are incredibly rare: I’ve done many, many lumbar punctures and no-one has ever had a problem but, legally, I still need to tell you.”
“Can I say that I’d rather not know?” I ask.
“I’m afraid not,” the Good Doctor tells me.
Now, I wouldn’t generally say that I’m a swooning sort of gal. Blood doesn’t faze me; I’m cool with spiders and snakes; I don’t mind public speaking. But – just now and then – medical details can make me come over all unnecessary: buzzy ears, wobbly legs, nausea. Actually hitting the deck is not unknown. So I protect myself with the breastplate of wilful ignorance strengthened with the shield of purposeful denial. Well, it works for me.
As the Good Doctor explains how he’ll do the lumbar puncture and the ways in which it could – but won’t, obviously – go wrong, my ears start buzzing. Before you can say ‘wimp’, I’ve got my head between my knees, while Pa pats my arm and the student nurse runs for water.
Let’s move on. The lumbar puncture gets done, and although the Good Doctor has to make a couple of adjustments before getting the needle in the right spot, it doesn’t really hurt and I have quite an interesting discussion about The Archers with a young nurse crouching on the floor by my head. She could have been feigning an interest in the topic of coercive control but it did the trick. Next time, perhaps, we can discuss the problems of tearing in rams’ scrotums (scrota??)
On Tuesday, I’m heading back up to the National Hospital of Neurology to collect my first supply of Ambroxol for a new drug trial, funded this time by the awesome Cure Parkinson’s Trust. I did quiz the Good Doctor on the reasons they have lit upon this drug to investigate; presuming that they haven’t just started with A and are going to try everything up to Zyvox until hitting upon a cure.
I think what he said is that Ambroxol, which is currently available over the counter in quite a small dose as a cough medicine, has been shown to increase the production of a Certain Enzyme. Aforesaid Certain Enzyme is known to reduce the amount of Particular Proteins which appear in excess in Parkie brains. What they are looking to find out in this small trial – just twenty people – is the extent to which Ambroxol crosses the blood/brain barrier. Hence the lumbar puncture before I start on the drug; there will be another in three months and a final one as a Christmas present.
If the results look at all promising, they’ll be hoping to move to a wider clinical trial with double blind placebos and all that malarkey.
In the meantime, I’m under strict instructions to lounge around for two days. Which, in this weather, is no hardship at all. Cheers!