I Feel Funny. No, Not Funny Ha Ha.

23 Jul

by Roger White

Gentle readers, you must pardon me if this installment of my periodic, oft-nonsensical missives unto you appears somewhat professorial, pedantic, and/or prosodic. I must warn you from the start that in my ever-vigilant endeavors to explore the bounds of subject matter for this whimsical journalistic discourse—with precious little regard for my personal safety and body fat content, mind you—I sometimes cross the line between investigative reporting and life-endangering folly. Not unlike intrepid chroniclers before me, such as George Plimpton, Terry Southern, and Henry Cabot Henhouse III, I must at times insert my very own self into the dark heart of the topic at hand.

Therefore, be advised, then, that I am penning these words with the assistance and/or interference, as the case may be, of 200 milligrams of the analeptic monoamine-releaser modafinil. In other words, I’m all hopped up on a tab of prescription Provigil, the latest “wakefulness aid” to come down the off-label pike. And I must say at the outset that moment by moment, my intramuscular energy levels are increasing at an astonishing rate, while my cognitive abilities appear to be coalescing, dare I say multiplying, as I type. Note that I am also scrubbing the kitchen floor grout with a toothbrush, learning Mandarin Chinese via iPod, and performing a mental audit of our family’s previous three years of Form 1040 Schedule A itemized deductions. Piece of cake, really.

Just as this generation of moms has discovered that dipping into their kids’ Ritalin stash has rendered running the household a veritable breeze, folks who were recently prescribed Provigil tablets for narcolepsy or other sleeping disorders have found that a daily off-label popping of one of these minuscule motivators transforms them into super-functioning cerebretrons. Now, we had our own forms of Ritalin and Provigil back in the day. We called it speed. Except if you consumed enough of this heart-squeezing substance, say, to stay up all week during college finals, you could very well end up speeding right into the emergency room.

However, according to a recent ABC News segment on the growing crowd of Provigil partisans, this new wonder drug has no adverse side effects they can detect so far. Let me underline the so far. So far. There. I’ll italicize it, also: So far. I mean, they’ve been studying this stuff how long, a year maybe? How tragic (or comic) would it be to witness a hefty portion of the population go running to their doctors claiming a sudden onset of narcolepsy so they can all leap onto the Provigil Express only to gradually mutate into half-stallion, half-cyclops people in five years’ time?

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not have many of my neighbors and friends become half-stallion, half-cyclops people. This isn’t Arkansas.

The great dearth of longitudinal studies notwithstanding, Provigil sales have skyrocketed. Prescription sales have reportedly increased 73 percent in the last four years—to approximately $1.5 billion in 2011. That’s billion. With a buh.

One guy, a Mr. Dave Asprey, who runs a billion-dollar (with a buh) Internet security firm, told ABC News he starts his day at about 4 in the a.m. Get this, Asprey once bounced out of bed, worked out for a couple of hours, flew 20 hours to Australia with no sleep, and then delivered a series of speeches that were so inspiring they were featured in the local newspapers.

How are we supposed to compete in the workplace with a Provigil Pete? I believe that employers should screen for Provigil in the same fashion athletes are checked for steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs. How on earth am I going to be able to justify my afternoon siesta when Pro-V Patty is in the next cubicle cross-referencing the company archives back to 1862? And what about all those Salesperson of the Month plaques that decorate your friendly car dealer’s walls? I say if they discover that any of those guys were on Provigil that an asterisk must be placed by their names. The asterisk of shame.

Anyway, back to Mr. Asprey. As an experiment, ABC took the guy off the drug for several days, and he did admit he felt a bit “off.” He even admitted his speech was altered! Hmm.

All I can report to you personally is that as I have been writing this column (and scrubbing the kitchen floor and learning Mandarin Chinese and self-auditing my tax returns) I have experienced a certain mental expansion. 官官話官話, 國語 官官? No?

I also believe this is in large part due to the locus of the monoamine action of modafinil, which has also been the target of studies identifying effects on dopamine in the striatum and nucleus accumbens, as opposed to the noradrenaline in the hypothalamus and ventrolateral preoptic nucleus, as well as serotonin in the amygdala and frontal cortex. But you knew that. Duh.

Otherwise, I feel no adversefafctcts shatsoevr, infact I hav neveer flt btetr in…  in.. 9 … 1…….1

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

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One Response to “I Feel Funny. No, Not Funny Ha Ha.”

  1. shrink on the couch July 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    I feel a mean case of sleep apnea coming on.

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