Since I first mentioned on Facebook that I was going to do high dose intravenous vitamin C (IVC), friends there have been asking me to describe what the experience is like. How odd that I have had to think so hard about how to respond to such a seemingly simple request.
Maybe I’m just not sure of what they are really asking about and what they expect to hear.
It’s an IV. I sit in a comfortable lounge chair while the technician hangs a bag of clear fluid on a stand and then examines my arms, looking for the best place to put the butterfly needle into a vein.
The actual infusion can sting. The idea is to put as much ascorbate in as quickly as possible, to achieve high levels in the bloodstream. For me, that’s 75 grams in 90 minutes, so the solution is pretty strong and acidic, and yes, it can be irritating at the site of injection, but no worse than some infusions I’ve been through, such as IVIG. At the same time, countering the burn, the infusion is cold, because everything is refrigerated prior to the infusion. So that burning arm also feels like ice to the touch. There is usually a heating pad available, which helps, but the truth is I’m a lot less comfortable for those 90 minutes than I would be otherwise. Still, it’s not nearly as bad as sitting on a wooden pew for a Baptist church service for 90 minutes was when I was younger.
While the infusion is dripping into my veins, I can read a book, or visit with others in the area. I might doze off, or think about designing a device to warm the infusion solution to body temperature in the tube, just before it enters the vein. I practice breathing and meditating. In my subconscious mind, I turn the burn into energy to destroy all sorts of malignancy and rot in my body.
All that fluid increases my need to urinate, which can be quite a dance, depending on the clinic setup and where the needle has been placed. I’ve learned to wear sweat pants, rather than jeans, as fumbling with buttons and zippers can be difficult, especially if the needle is the back of my hand, as it usually is, making it difficult to grasp things. The infusions also make me very thirsty, which is counterproductive for reducing the need to pee.
Maybe what people who ask me about IVC really want to know is how I feel after the infusion. That’s more difficult to describe. My first three infusions of IVC last month left me feeling… nothing. I was out of town, sleeping in a motel, and pissing in a plastic jug all night. I don’t remember feeling any sense of new energy, or anything else for that matter. Maybe I was too preoccupied with the entire Riordan Clinic experience to notice, though I do remember watching for changes and observing, because I wondered what I would feel myself. A few weeks later, when the dosage was increased from 50 to 75 grams, I did notice an increase in my energy level the rest of the day, or perhaps even for a couple of days afterward, and I didn’t need my usual naps either.
Monday, I had my seventh IVC drip, and once again, I can’t say I felt much of anything. I was tired when I went in at 9:30 that morning, and I was tired when I came home. I took a nap. Later that evening, I do think I felt a bit of a buzz, or vibration in the nerve endings on the periphery of my body, but I’m not sure that wasn’t just the thrill I get from blogging. In other words, any physical sensations are so subtle that I’m not able to ascribe them to IVC with any certainty.
Are readers getting the picture of how hard this is to describe? There is no one way the IVC makes me feel, and that’s not why I’m doing it. In fact, I’d be a bit concerned if it gave me a “bump”, or if I started to anticipate and look forward to it… like a junky or something. I’m doing IVC as an alternative treatment because of my aversion to drugs due to their adverse affects and their tendency to create addiction or dependency.
The really hard question is that I ask myself is: how will I know if the IVC “worked”? What objective measure do I use to judge success or failure? If I was a cancer patient, with a 7 cm tumor, I could judge success by the therapy’s ability to reduce the tumor’s size.
If I had KS, I could judge success by IVC’s ability to make my lesions disappear.
I have ‘HIV disease’, whatever the hell that means. All I have are 12 years of laboratory markers that may or may not mean much. If the IVC reverses the decline in my CD4 count, will that prove anything? If my viral load drops, or gawd forbid becomes “undetectable”, will that put IVC on the map for treating people with AIDS and other immune diseases?
Over the years, I’ve had to learn how to listen to my body to know when something was wrong. I will trust it to tell me if this experiment was worthwhile. Though I don’t get a buzz from the IVCs, I do have more energy this week than I had most weeks last year. The lingering, nonproductive cough that has been nagging me the last few months has stopped. My swollen glands have resolved, my stools are more solid than ever and my piss doesn’t reek. All good signs, in my book, but hardly the conclusive and objectively observed measures required to be called evidence.
I cannot afford to continue the IVC past next month, so I’m more than halfway through my initial personal plan of action, and I will spend some more time evaluating the results then. At this point, my body seems to be grateful for what has been done for it so far.
I don’t know how else to answer these questions.