Nausea. It feels like someone reached down my throat, grabbed my stomach and pulled it out through my mouth.

The Temodar is getting to me, finally. The first three of five straight days of 340 mg are fine, then the nausea hits on the fourth and lingers for a few extra days. Food seems absolutely repulsive. Any strong smell is like a poison gas.

Over the summer I took lower doses of Temodar without the nausea reliever Zofran. When the dose was upped to 250 mg, I learned (the hard way) to take a Zofran ahead of time. I’m taking it around the clock now, but still in the grip of this dreary, ill feeling.

Enter Marinol. My oncologist prescribed it for me last week to back up the Zofran. One of his assistants, in preparing the prescription, counseled me earnestly not to expect a “high”. Like marijuana, Marinol’s active ingredient is THC. (1) Rather than risk my health inhaling some pungent plant smoke under cover of darkness, I would ingest a medically necessary, socially acceptable and completely legal pink pill. (2)

It arrived at my local pharmacy Monday and my wife picked it up. That was day four of the Temodar. I felt unsettled and my appetite was nil, so I went to the fridge and took one. And guess what? After a few hours, I was high.

It’d been years since I had that kind of experience. My mind was swept up in a garish parade of thoughts and meta-thoughts, a peculiar but recognizable sensation. I felt compelled to write, and laughed at myself, suspecting my revelations were the same worn offerings I’d ignored when sober.

All in all, I prefer my normal frame of mind, though in contrast it seems inert and bundled. Fortunately, my appetite came back.

Tuesday morning I was not queasy, but had a headache. I rallied for an outing on the sailboard, took a Zofran while sitting on the board out in Casco Bay, then swallowed the last of the Temodar when I got back to the landing. The nasty feeling crept up again in the evening, though I was able to eat and avoided Marinol. I woke up twice during the night and beat back the nausea with will power.

But this morning was just wrong. I pushed myself through each tiny step of a mundane morning ritual and got my son to school. Later I napped and was able to stomach a pear.

At this point, I’m not sure which I prefer: sober nausea or stoned hunger.



    This article explains the medicinal use of dronabinol (brand name: Marinol). Some enlightening excerpts:

    Possible side effects include: “feeling like you are outside of your body, ‘high’ or elevated mood, hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist), sleepiness, strange or unusual thoughts”.

    Symptoms of overdose may include: “inappropriate happiness, sharper senses than usual, changed awareness of time, red eyes”.

    Would someone please let me know when it’s appropriate to be happy?


    This is a (rather snarky) illumination of the differences between Marinol and all other (illegal) THC vectors. It opens with this choice retort: “Medical marijuana already exists. It’s called Marinol.”

    I appreciate Marinol’s convenience and precise dosing. The cost, however, is ridiculous. On Oct. 20, 2011, listed the price of 60 capsules of 2.5mg Marinol as $441.97. The illegal “bud” form of the drug is a fraction of that cost. (I would guess 5 to 10 percent for a similar dose).

  1. Best wishes.

  2. i’ve read that the marinol is an inferior though much more expensive substitute- for multiple reasons: one -you cant control the dosage as you can with a bit of smoke, and actually many people complain that they get too stoned with the marinol pills, where they really are only attempting to lessen the nausea and can do so with less. And two- cannabis has dozens of other active compounds besides the THC, and some of these other compounds may be also important in its theraputic applications. this is from wikipedia: “Comparison of marinol (dronabinol) to medical marijuana
    Main article: Medical marijuana
    Female cannabis plants contain more than 60 cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), thought to be the major anticonvulsant that helps multiple sclerosis patients;[72] and cannabichromene (CBC), an anti-inflammatory which may contribute to the pain-killing effect of cannabis.[73]
    It takes over one hour for Marinol to reach full systemic effect,[74] compared to minutes for smoked or vaporized cannabis.[75] Some patients accustomed to inhaling just enough cannabis smoke to manage symptoms have complained of too-intense intoxication from Marinol’s predetermined dosages. MANY PATIENTS have said that MARINOL PRODUCES A MORE ACUTE PSYCHEDELIC EFFECT THAN CANNNABIS, and it has been speculated that this disparity can be explained by the moderating effect of the many non-THC cannabinoids present in cannabis. For that reason, alternative THC-containing medications based on botanical extracts of the cannabis plant such as nabiximols are being developed. Mark Kleiman, director of the Drug Policy Analysis Program at UCLA’s School of Public Affairs said of Marinol, “It wasn’t any fun and made the user feel bad, so it could be approved without any fear that it would penetrate the recreational market, and then used as a club with which to beat back the advocates of whole cannabis as a medicine.”[76] United States federal law currently registers dronabinol as a Schedule III controlled substance, but all other cannabinoids remain Schedule I, excepting synthetics like nabilone.[citation needed]
    heres som other interesting stuff: and here is some more dense stuff on the cancer killing abilities of THC but i’m too stoned to understand this stuff (kidding, kidding)
    seriously though, you might look into a vaporizer if you are worried about the smoke but dont want to be getting all high from the marinol.

    oh boy, nausea blows. i had extreme nausea for months while pregnant and it I wouldnt wish it on anyone.

    Also, I recently came across a bounty of Miatake mushrooms which are also reputed to reverse cancer growth. I have dried a large jar of them and would be happy to share if you mssg me your mailing address. you can reconstitute them by soaking them in water and add them to stir ffries or just sautee them by themselves, or just boil them up and drink some tea from them. :

  3. Herbert J. Navarro

    As an alternative to Marinol, or cannabis smoke, I recommend a variation of Toklas’s brownies or cookies( On an empty stomach, effects can be appreciated within 1/2 hour – although a 1 hour lapse is more predictable. Effective dosage may be a matter of trial and error, but small quantities can have pleasantly mild effects.

    Your writing has been very helpful to us in coping with our experience. We appreciate it so much.

  4. You’ve been silent for quite some time…and I’ve asked myself what you may be going through right now… I hope you are hanging up in there…

    You are in my prayers and hope to read you soon…

    Sending you a big hug…( even if I’m a stranger or just words on a screen)Stay strong…stay faithful…


  5. My brother had a glioblastoma multiforme stage IV (diagnosed 1995), and now my aunt has the same thing, diagnosed this March. She’s on Avastin, which is supposed to temporarily halt tumor growth, and lo and behold, today her MRI showed no growth. It’s a welcome sliver of good news.

    I wish you all the best.

  6. Brain cancer is not fun. The more research I do, the less I wish I read. I have stopped chemotherapy (temodar), take several supplements and make liposomal vitamin c. I refuse to get MRI’s and focus on living in the now. With survival rates so low, being a test subject makes no sense. I am in better shape and eat a better diet than anyone I am friends with.
    It is tough to wonder how long you have left, and how much worse I will get, but as long as I have some wieghts to lift, I can put numbers and goals on that. Nothing better than deadlifting more than anyone in the gym on chemo….while they are on steroids :) good luck to all of you!

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