Wednesday 18 September 2019

Brendan O'Connor: 'These vitamins are going to kill me'

Boost: 'I decided I would add in a few more vitamins, on a temporary basis, just until I got run up again'
Boost: 'I decided I would add in a few more vitamins, on a temporary basis, just until I got run up again'
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

I was supposed to cut down on my supplement, vitamin and pharmacy spend this summer. The budget was going to be cut via a series of clinical trials whereby I would phase in and out various additives and monitor my reaction. I would separate the wheat from the chaff and pare back to only the essentials, the ones with a proven track record. All very scientific. But it's going the opposite direction. Somehow, I'm on the lysine as well now. That's the latest.

I wasn't looking for lysine. I was actually after vitamin B12 or D. The gum pain and general mouthy issues were worse than usual so my wife diagnosed that I was run down, possibly connected to seasonal affective disorder, the summer version, and I needed either B12 or D, maybe both.

A new vitamin was the last thing my already spiralling medical and alternative therapy budget needed, but I was forced to admit it had been a tricky enough few months on various levels, so I decided I would add in a few more vitamins, on a temporary basis, just until I got run up again.

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I didn't go to the usual chemist. Yes. I have a usual chemist. Two of them, in fact, and I'm one of the best customers in both of them. I would imagine that if you combined my total spend, I am keeping an eighth of a pharmacy worker and maybe a fifth of a big pharma/supplement factory worker going. Anyway, the guy I went to was all nosy, asking me what I wanted the B12 and the D for. In the course of his nosing, it emerged that I was taking a Revive Active and Berocca cocktail every morning, and the chemist was like, dude, you are more than all set for vitamins. There are barely any vitamins known to man that you aren't ingesting plenty of. But he could see I wasn't leaving without some satisfaction, so he thought of something I wasn't already mainlining. lysine. Good for mouth ulcers apparently. Not specifically my problem, but it would do. I figured at least it couldn't do me any harm.

I was wrong there. There is a good chance I will choke on a lysine. They are gigantic, hard and rough. Each time I take one, I play out this little scenario in my head where I just silently choke on one, and I can't call out to my wife, who might be, say, upstairs. Usually it ends with her coming down at the last minute and seeing me on the floor grasping my throat, silently pleading with my eyes, and she manages to dislodge it. Sometimes in this scenario it flies out of my mouth and projectiles across the room, breaking a window. It always ends the same way. She says: "What the hell were you doing trying to swallow that large rough stone in one go? Did it not occur to you might choke on it?" And I say: "That's the crazy thing. That exact thought occurs to me every time I go to take one of them. But then I tell myself that they surely wouldn't be selling them in the chemist if they were dangerous."

Then my whole plan about maybe laying off the probiotics for a while to see if it made any difference to the gut ran into a speedbump too. In my early evangelism for the Alflorex, I had turned the mother and father on to it. And when I told the mother I was giving it up, she said "Oh no. I swear by it. Don't give that up." Now the thing about the mother is she's no fool. Indeed, she pretty much knows everything. I know everyone thinks this about their mother, but mine objectively does pretty much know everything, and she knows it about a week before anyone else does. To the point that if I ever try to tell her something I've just figured out after many years, she will usually answer me with "Do you think I didn't know that?" And you can tell she's not lying. So if she's been taken in by the probiotics, then they must work.

Of course, if and when I choke on a lysine, it will come as no surprise to the mother. She will have seen that one coming a mile off.

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