Accidental Science!

It is hard for lovers to shower with me.

The difficulty lies in the fact that I can tolerate only a narrow range of temperature. Anything above or below that range is pain.

I inherited this trait from my mom, along with her resistance to local anesthetics. It has a name, in fact: “congenital thermal allodynia.” It’s caused by a genetic anomaly of genes that direct production of a class of receptor protiens called “transient receptor proteins,” or TRPs, particularly receptor called TRPA1 (which activates in response to cold) and TRPV1 (which activates in response to heat).

TRPV1, the sensor that makes painfully hot things painfully hot

Simplified, handwaving over details, many TRPs respond to changes in temperature, allowing ions to flow through into the nerve cells the receptor proteins are attached to if temperature goes above or below a threshold. When these receptors are found on pain nerves, triggering them results in pain. The temperature-sensing receptors produced my body aren’t formed correctly, so the heat-sensitive receptors trigger at too low a temperature and the cold-sensitive receptors at too high a temperature; a shower that’s perfectly fine for someone else is painfully hot for me, and cold showers are unbearable agony.

That’s the background part I.


Some time ago, I severely burned my foot by dropping a kettle of boiling water on it, which is how I discovered that boiling water burns are just about the only things that suck worse than kidney stones.

The hospital gave me a shot of morphine, which did nothing except make me throw up, and prescribed oxycodone, which also did nothing but make me throw up. Finally, in desperation, I tried cannabis edibles, which I found worked far better than opiates on pain—cannabis was the only thing that made followup viits to the burn clinic tolerable.

That’s the background part II.

Incidentally to this, I also learned that cannabis edibles quench the thermal allodynia. It was, I must say, quite an amazing thing to be able to take a nice warm shower and have it, astonishingly, be a pleasant experience.

For the first time, I really understood what people mean when they talk about enjoying a hot shower.

Fast forward a few years, and I discovered, also quite by accident, that cannabis edibles put me in my body. Normally, my experience of the world is that I live in a ball behind my eyes, connected to and driven around by a meat machine that I can feel, sure, but that isn’t really me. The first time I ever had the experience of completely inhabiting my body was after an experiment with psilocybin mushrooms some years back; and boy, lemme tell you, the experience that I, the me that I am, reached all the way to the floor was fascinating.

I learned earlier this year that small doses of cannabis edibles, about 1.25mg of THC and 1mg of CBD, will induce the same thing.

I also learned, entirely by accident, that a low-dose cannabis edible plus a Mike’s hard lemonade will put me entirely in my body but also make the experience extremely unpleasant.

That’s the background part III.

Now that you know the background, allow me to get to the point of this essay, in which your humble scribe and his Talespinner decide to do “Science!”, and instead accidentally do real, honest-to-god Science!

So first, the “Science!”

Those of you who’ve followed the adventures chronicled herein may be aware that for the last three years I’ve been hard at work on various xenonorph-themed sex toys, most notably the Xenomorph Hiphugger Strapon.

I made a xenomorph hiphugger for my Talespinner as well, and also I’ve been working on a xenomorph facehugger gag, which I brought with me to Springfield.

Two nights ago, my Talespinner and I attended a play party a a local dungeon, at which she played the role of a captive experimental subject caged and parasitized by xenomorphs.

A great time was had by all—you know it’s a party when the facehuggers come out—and so, the next day, we decided to bring out the facehuggers again.

Being that it was close to New Year’s Eve, we got a bottle of aggressively mediocre spiced rum, nowhere near as good as the rum we had in Barcelona, but adequate to the task of toasting the end of an objectively shite year.

And in the name of “Science!”, my Talespinner suggested we replicate my accidental findings with cannabis and alcohol, because, as all reasonable people know, replicability is the foundation of both “Sicence!” and Science!

And so it came to pass, Gentle Readers, that your humble scribe took a low-dose edible and a shot of mediocre rum, his Talespinner strapped a facehugger alien to her hips, and we were off to “Science!”

I won’t disturb you with the details of what happened next, as they would..err, disturb you. However, I will tell you that what we learned was the experience of being in my body was overall quite pleasant.

Until I crawled, exhausted and spent, beneath the blankets.

And the cold blankets were…I won’t say agonizing exactly, but certainly agonizing-adjacent.

Here is where we move from “Science!” to actual bona-fide Science!

It seems that alcohol doesn’t actually make my perception of fully inhabiting my body unpleasant. Rather, what one recreational chemical giveth, the other taketh away. Where cannabis removes the thermal allodynia, alcohol brings it back. And the combination of extreme—some might even say unreasonable—temperature sensitivity and being more consciously aware of my body than I otherwise am is an experienced not to be missed, unless you can miss it, in which case I suggest you do.

I spent some time this morning scratching my head about this, as I would not expect, at first consideration, alcohol to affect transient receptor proteins.

I finally dod a Google Scholar search while we were on our way to the store to purchase tools for minor alien penis surgery, when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but an NIH article directly on point about this:

Ethanol’s Effects on Transient Receptor Potential Channel Expression in Brain Microvascular Endothelial Cells

Well huh, I thought, that’s interesting.

A bit more digging down this particular rabbit hole suggested that yes indeed, this is a real thing:

Primary alcohols activate human TRPA1 channel in a carbon chain length-dependent manner

Ethanol causes neurogenic vasodilation by TRPV1 activation and CGRP release in the trigeminovascular system of the guinea pig

And so it came to pass, Gentle Reader, that our attempts to get jiggy with alien hiphugger parasites and recreational intoxicants actually resulted in a finding supported by genuine empirical Science!, namely that cannabinoid molecules can suppress congenital thermal allodynia, a result reversible by concomitant administration of ethanol.

Which is pretty effin’ cool, I think.

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