I am not a liar, but …

“Fluid replenishment or Hypotension?”

This was a criteria for exclusion from the clinical study. Geeze, that was almost 30 years ago, and at the time, I didn’t remember it in completely vivid detail. OK, yes, they gave me an IV, sure, but do I remember why?  The memory can do funny things, especially when there is emotional trauma involved.

“Fluid replenishment or Hypotension?”
If I check the “yes” box will they eliminate me?


… Wait a minute, I went to the informational meeting. I met the guy that was the success story. He was going to the hospital all the time, now he’s eating 17 peanuts a day. They took him in the study. Surely he was hypotensive, right? I mean, you can’t be anaphylaxic and not be hypotensive, right?

I could have been him. I could be eating 17 peanuts a day.  But I’m not.  I shouldn’t have hung up the phone. I read about Phase 1 of the study a few years earlier, my dreams had been answered.  I called the number, hoping for a wonder drug treatment.  I was ecstatic when they called me back, and I fit the profile, but then they said, “it’s quite simple really, we are going to feed you minute amounts of peanuts” and I hung up the phone.  I didn’t even say goodbye, I just hung up the phone. The feeling of hope quickly washed away as my heart started pounding and anxiety chilled me.

Now years later Phase 2 recruiting started. I had plenty of time to think about it. Did I make a mistake?  No, I didn’t. Sure I’d like to think I could be that guy eating 17 peanuts a day, but fact of the matter is there is no way I could have made it through the peanut exposure, I had spent 25 years reprogramming my anxiety response into a warning system.  I had training myself that if I’m anxious I don’t eat.  I wasn’t going to be able to reverse that overnight.

I didn’t see the silver lining at the time, but shortly thereafter there was a major restructuring at work and I was on the wrong side of a political power struggle. I was put in a very stressful work environment that turned into a vicious cycle of anxiety and depression that fed on itself relentlessly. I was asked to leave.  I was not ready to leave, but I had to.  When I sought treatment for this temporary situation the doctor unwound what I had been doing, using anxiety as my warning system. “Anxiety will kill you, just as dead as eating a peanut, but it will take a lot longer” And so began my treatment for FA/ANA induced anxiety.

By the time Phase 2 came around I was ready. I could manage my anxiety. I needed this treatment. I needed to be part of the clinical trail.  I was ready to be part of the clinical trial, and frankly, I was desperate. At least if I died during the trial I would know that I had tried my best. I was willing to accept that consequence.

And so for the box marked “Fluid replenishment or Hypotension?” I checked the box next to the NO.


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