RW131 - As Big As Elephant Toes

This week, Dan and John talk about:

Bonus-content for Patreon supporters:

  • How to get students to think outside the box (Education)
  • How did travel affect John’s life? (Travel)

The show title refers to John being willing to take pills as big as elephant toes if that would give him only one pill with his complete doses.

This might be the earliest they have ever spoken. It is 8am for John but it is the middle of the day where Dan is, which is the downside of living in Seattle. 8am doesn’t seem that early to a lot of people, but it is not when John is typically up and puttering around. When Dan is waking up in the morning there is a likelihood that John had just gone to bed. They could absolutely touch bases, John ends his watch, Dan begins his watch and John hands him his pike or his briefcase with the bomb codes, the football.

John went down into his daughter’s room and she was already awake. He didn’t say anything and just sat down on her bed and she said ”Simon says: Wiggle your ears!”, which was like ”Wow!”, but John doesn’t think Simon can say things like that. Wiggling your ears is advanced and not something everyone can do. John is not convinced she can wiggle her ears, but she was just baiting John.

John’s daughter asked him during the recording exactly how clean she needed to make her room and he whispered to her. She could leave the dolls the way they were, but she had to sort them and make it look good. She was peeking through the door, trying to figure out if she can hear him.

Draft version
The segments below are drafts that will be incorporated into the rest of the Wiki as time permits.

Having memory problems after taking Bipolar medicine (RW131)

When John met Millennial girlfriend she was working as a lawyer at the company Medium until she got head-hunted by SnapChat and moved to Los Angeles. Her boss at SnapChat used to be some Muckymuck at Rhapsody. They were definitely living the Southern California life down there and if everybody is worth hundreds of millions of dollars the reality gets skewed. The guy from Rhapsody had a house in Northern California that he loaned to Kayne for him to write some raps and he claims that he and Kanye were super-tight, but John is not sure about that.

She started taking Basis by Elysium because they were all taking it in this crowd. There was something super-culty about it and the Elysium website was explaining how and why the thing works, but when you wanted to just order some, the Buy-Now page was 5 pages long. John didn't want to know why he should buy it, but he just wanted to buy it. You had to get something like a cell-phone plan, a yearly or monthly pre-paid thing.

John did a lot of research when he got his Bipolar drug and he learned a lot of different stories, even horror stories. There was a thread about the fact that he felt he wasn’t remembering everything a couple of months after he was taking it regularly, and people suggested that John should take another drug to mitigate the memory loss stuff of the first drug, but it was just some crazy shit he was reading on the Internet.

John’s memory has never been any kind of factor in his life, except that it was always ironclad and super-reliable. He remembers small things and big things, his memory was a big part of who he was, how he learned and how he knows things. He remembers and makes connections. When he started taking Lamictal he definitely felt that there was a bit of fog on him. He would be in conversation with somebody and they would say ”You know, when we were talking to Brandy…” - ”When have we been talking to Brandy?” - ”Like 4 days ago!” - ”I have no recollection of talking to Brandy 4 days ago!” It didn’t spook John because it was so crazy and he felt like this had to be connected to the drug. The idea that he would have talked to Brandy 4 days ago and not remember it was insane!

Normally John will let most things slide, like ”I’m sure it is fine”, but in this case it was hitting too close to home. Also, he was reaching for words, which was absolutely not a thing he ever did. He could just feel that he wasn’t functioning at his normal levels and googled ”Lamictal Memory Loss” and there were a lot of hits. He reads some of them on the show.

It was kind of scary because this amazing drug had otherwise done so much for John and had helped him so much. How could he possibly balance the benefits against the prospect of losing his one super-power, his good memory? He followed the thread and came to a place where a group of people were saying that NAC was going to help, some kind of amino-acid which is absolutely completely 100% unrelated to NAD+.

John was like ”I don’t know, man!”, he took things just on the strength of some crazy connection somebody had made, no doctor had told him that NAC was a memory-enhancer or a bonafide companion drug for Lamictal, but because some website suggested it John started taking it. It regulates glutamate or something and it did help, at least it felt like it did. John still feels like his memory is not what it was or that he has lost something, but it is a stable level of reaching for words.

In the way John talks now you can hear that there is something different in his lucidity, but it feels manageable. He can’t discern if there is a creeping loss and if it is getting worse and he is not noticing that he is less and less articulate because he is inside. Also, he doesn’t know if it is a destructive loss and what he would do 10 years from now if he had destroyed his lucidity. If he ever came to a point where he would rather be Bipolar than not be able to remember anything or find words, would it be too late?

It is like the dream of UFOs coming down, removing all the toxins from your body and returning you to a state of perfection. With NAD+ there is a lot of support for the idea and scientifically and chemically there is a lot of controversy about how exactly the drug enters your blood stream and how it best works, but everybody agrees that at least as far as NAD+ appears to work you cannot overdose or maxodose on it. It doesn’t keep improving its effectiveness if you take more, but your body peaks in its ability to subsume this stuff. Everybody seems to agree that 300mg a day is the peak amount, but all of the companies who sell it, including the Basis by Elysium, sell it in 250mg doses and with most distributors you need to get two 125mg pills to get to a 250mg dose.

These pills are not cheap and John went on a very frustrating quest to get 300mg of NAD+ in a single pill, which didn’t feel impossible or improbable, even if it would be a big pill. John will take pills as big as Elephant Toes! These are not big pills but just little capsules and they are not even full of powder. John is not a pill maker, but he knows for a fact that you could make a 300mg pill of this stuff. He spent a long time on the Internet looking for one pill with this dosage and in the end he settled for 250mg. He wanted just one 250mg pill and he actually ordered pills, but when they arrived he realized it was a bait-and-switch.

Dan discovered that you can take Vitamins in Gummy form. They are called Alive - Men’s Gummy Vitamins. He continues to talk about those vitamins. For John the issue in taking vitamins is not that he wants them to be more delicious because he just takes them in a handful and swallows them with a glass of water. At first he never took any pills, but then he had to take that one pill, then he had to take a couple of other pills, and if he anyway had to take some pills, he could just as well take all these other things (see RW48 and RL277).

When Dan talked about Gummies, he conjured an image of a slew of pill bottles lying all over tons of these inefficient Gummy vitamin delivery devices, all those ground-up horse’s hooves, when all John really wants is all his pills in one tiny pill. He wants those astronaut meals that are turkey dinners inside a tiny pill, like a Wonka pill that lets you taste all your dinner, but you can carry it in your shirt pocket.

John is still trying to find that and he doesn’t know if the pills he is taking redouble one another or if some of them interact with each other in weird ways. There must be a website for that! John found the site Psychedelic Times. Dan doesn’t want to see John get into the thing where he is taking drugs on drugs to counteract each other’s side-effects.

Grapefruit being incompatible with Lamictal (RW131)

Everybody agreed that Lamictal does not work with Grapefruit juice and John stopped eating Grapefruits entirely. It was also nice that they didn’t say to not ever eat gravy again or a cheese burger, which would have been another hard decision. Although John likes grapefruit, not eating them anymore was something he could do with the confidence that he wasn’t going to sneak in a grapefruit at a hotel on a continental breakfast buffet. Grapefruit seems to have a negating effect on a lot of different drugs, which seems to be a strong indication that grapefruit is a magic potion and we should be investigating why it is so good at this and if we can use it to do other things. It could be like licking a frog in the Amazon that will cure all disease because you don’t look at grapefruit as promoting disease.

Dan generally avoids everything citrus although he absolutely loves oranges. As his second or third job out of school he was working at a software consulting company and one of his friends Bill owned a ton of land in Central Florida with orange trees and periodically he would collect oranges and bring them in to work in huge trash bags. They were pretty good, not the kind of naval oranges you get from Bloods in South Florida, but Dan loved the fact that there was a place called Blood that made oranges. When Dan was eating those oranges every day he had migraines now and again and eventually he was starting to get them daily, but he didn’t make the connection to the oranges. It was okay to have an orange occasionally, but he would always get an upset stomach from the acidity. At one point he just decided that he was incompatible to citrus stuff.

Exclusion diets (RW131)

A long time ago John’s mom decided that she had strange interactions with food and something she was eating was causing bodily problems like migraines or congestion. She discovered a thing called FODMAP and they all struggled not to call it the food map, because that is what it is and the people should just have called it that and added one extra O.

FODMAP puts you on an extremely restricted diet trying to figure out what it is that you are taking in that is causing you problems and if you have IBS or other kinds of disagreeable reactions to food. They split up food in different categories and John’s mom has been pursuing this insanity for years. At first she took everything away, then she would have a piece of apple and she would wait for two days and if nothing bad happened she would take the second three bites of apple.

Watching this from afar, none of them could imagine to be so engaged in what they were eating, but for a lot of people this is the way they control their universe. Meanwhile John was over here pulling stuff out of his refrigerator, shaking it, smelling it, saying ”I’m sure it is fine” and eating it in combination with whatever. He is one step above roadkill in terms of what he is prepared to eat and be fine with.

John wished that Lamictal was contra-indicated with something else big that he was actually trying to stop eating, like spaghetti. He would have felt pain and suffering as a result of losing spaghetti, but he would have had a thing. Instead he doesn’t eat any grapefruit which is simple. If only he were his mom who could eliminate all food except for Borscht and then gradually add in things again.

Dan hasn’t heard of FODMAP, but he is very familiar with elimination diets like the GAPS diet where you go down to drinking basic chicken broth and then add things one by one. There are people who really want to assert control in their lives, but John is not. He wants everything to just be fine and let it roll, he doesn’t want to measure or monitor himself in that way.

John doesn’t mind organizing other things in the world, like if you gave him 400 sharpened pencils and asked him to arrange them by length, he would happily start to work on that project immediately, his daughter would join him and they would both be delighted. Keeping a journal of all of the food he ate in a month would feel like an incredible burden. Dan feels the exact opposite of that.

When John watches a pharmacist pull a bunch of pills out and use their little pharmacist wand to count 100 pills into a thing, he thinks what a fun job that is! John would do that on his own! But if you then wanted him to write down even at a basic level if he did eat a meal today? He doesn’t even know, and why do you have to get all ”that” about it?

For the last year or longer John has been living in a world where he often forgets to eat until he feels something weird around 5pm and realizes that he hasn’t had any food today. He will eat a big meal and wander around in a daze until he finally recovers from that food haze at 7:30pm. He knows that this is a weird system that is so different from all the other food-eating systems that people have, like eat 15 small nibbles in a day, eat one piece of celery with peanut butter on it or one little slice of cheese. Just imagine having all that food at hand in single servings!

Equating food problems with his former drug problem (RW131)

John gets a lot of pleasure just from sitting in front of a giant mess of food. He knows it is going to injure him and by the time he is going to get to the end of it he is going to wish that he could get back to the start and be in the state of clean hunger rather than being on the other side in a state of borderline coma, but the greatest pleasure is to stand there and look at a trash can lid covered with steaks. It reminds Dan of the movie Groundhog Day and that scene where Bill Murray has settled into his fate and he is in a diner and has ordered literally everything on the menu and he is drinking coffee directly out of the coffee pot and doing all the things that we all liked to do if we knew there wouldn’t be any consequences to it.

John has eaten all the ice-cream. There is nothing new for him to discover in ice-cream, there is not some fresh bowl of ice-cream that transports him to a new land, and yet he continues to slog his way through 1000 miles of ice-cream because he just doesn’t have the strength to quit. As someone who has struggled with drugs and then quit drugs, the strength that he lacks when he faces food feels very akin to the strength that he was able to access in order to quit drugs. He wants to believe that it is a transferrable strength and he could just quit ice-cream the way he quit cocaine, because one thing seems even harder to quit than the other.

What is transferrable in John’s case is not the power to quit the thing, but the dependency upon the thing. Back then he used to take drugs and now he takes food as a medicament, as a comfort and as a problem solver. Luckily he hasn’t become obese. John can’t tell how much of this is just reflected in the fact that our society is obsessed with these things. If he was living outside of society where food arrived and he just picked what he thought looked delicious, he wouldn’t have any kind of neurosis about it, but because our society is so neurotic about food, he is also neurotic about it just because he is in proximity to everybody, like if you are going to have another French Dip Sandwich and everybody goes ”Ugh” - ”Well, I guess it is bad” - ”Yes, it is bad!” John has no idea if he will be 95 years old, look back at his life and say ”All these French Dips still got me to 95!”

John is already past the point where he could have been a 45-year old who died of a heart attack, but he does think of his eating habits and his life in the physical world as unhealthy and he projects dis-health on his choices. In a moment of weakness he bought a 2 pound bag of Peanut M&Ms and now if he just wants a handful of something he is trying to weigh if it should it be Leek Broth? No! He will take a handful of those Peanut M&Ms and for the rest of the day he will think that today is kind of a shot and now he might as well just eat 30 bacons. It is not a healthy relationship to food and it is very much like John used to be with dope.

There is a slippery slope in drugs but smoking Marijuana doesn’t turn you into a Heroin junkie. If you are already on drugs and you have access to them in varying quantities at varying times? John was never a rich drug taker and he can’t even imagine what it would have been like if he had all the money in the world and didn't think of drugs as bad or if he didn't care and could be sitting there with one of those tall leather wallets that people used to put into their inside suit jacket, big enough for a chequebook with a zipper on it and a substantial dose of any drug you could possibly want inside, like a little magic book that would get you through the day.

John and most of the drug people only had access to some of the drugs some of the time. Then you really want this other thing but first you have to get the money together and go on a search to find the guy who knows the guy who gets this kind of drug. John didn't even have pot around all the time because he didn’t have any money and when he wanted to get high, which was every day, he needed to start the day by figuring out some combination of luck, skill and cunning that was going to produce some Marijuana by the late morning. John knew people who bought pot in QPs (quarter pounds), which was amazing to him!

Even if John started a day with something to do and he couldn’t start drinking until he got this thing done or today was going to be a day where he was going to be clean and sharp, as soon as he only had a little bit of something at some point along the way it always began to slide and there was no way he could take a maintenance level of something to keep him burbling along. Taking a little bit of anything tripped a switch in him that said ”Fuck it, let’s ride!” and in order to spend a day straight, he couldn’t just have a little of anything, not even just cold medicine, not even a sip.

This is totally echoed in the choices John makes about food and it was the thing of being gluten-free: John really loved the effect it had on him and he stopped even caring about the food. Who cares about spaghetti? It used to be a fixation, but once he introduced the idea that he could have a little taste of something, just a cherry on top to give himself a little treat, the fall was just inexorable.

Dan remembers when John told Dan that it was his birthday and he had some pizza and Dan thought that John was gluten-free, and John said ”I was, I just had the pizza” - ”How do you feel?” - ”I feel awful” - ”Are you going to have more?” - ”Yeah!”

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