Thursday, July 7, 2011

I'm a Science Experiment

Yesterday I participated in study on people with MS and balance. Before there is a tidal wave of smart ass replies (you know who you are) this is Physical balance not Mental. I’d made my neurologist aware that I was interested in being involved in any study that didn’t involve blood work, being injected, needles, looking at needles, or saying the word needle. If my meaning still eludes you- I’m acutely needle-phobic. Can’t even watch TV hospital shows without getting queasy. Which is pretty damn funny because the only drugs for MS are injections.

I showed up, met 3 very earnest researchers who put me in a pair of polyester (ugh) shorts and proceeded to cover me from stem to stern with ‘markers’. These are retroreflective markers that track motion not sharpies. Then they add transmitters to my wrists, ankles, and chest that linked to more markers that track muscular movement.
This is not me but it is accurate minus the little silvery globes they stuck on all my joints
Once I was all tooled up we did fun things like standing on a metal platform that, without warning, will jerk forward or backwards. I was in a harness and there was someone next to me in case it looked like I would fall but it was more the anticipation that threw me. I was trying to subtly prepare (which was not so subtle given that I was wired to go off like a car alarm if I took a deep breath) but it caught me off guard each time. After the fourth time it felt more like a mean prank than research.

This kind of thing went on for 2 hours after which I did an interpretative dance and went home. Not really but that photo cracks me up. And those are the markers they stick on you only I had more (extra grace).

My take-aways (because you’re not told anything about the results or even the tests themselves):

1. Researchers don’t have a sense of humor. They may laugh politely but they really want you to stay quiet and get it done.
2. I have an inordinate desire to please authority- which may come as a surprise based on what I post on this blog. In a sensory perception test of my feet (hint- I have almost none left so I was going to fail this no matter what) I still tried to answer what I thought they wanted to hear. I’m pretty sure I had a puppy dog look on my face.

3. Despite making it through college and an advanced degree I cannot count backwards by 3. Not standing still w/ my eyes open, w/ my eyes closed, or walking. It wasn’t until my last test that I realized I had consistently said 11-3 equals 9. So, 151-3 equals 149 etc. It didn’t help that the realization hit me in mid-strike so I stopped (which they really hate) and said, “SHIT.” Which they didn’t like so much either. I’m not even going to defend this level of idiocy except to blame it on the American school system.
There you have it- my contribution to the study of MS. Once I was denuded of all sensors I pocketed my $35 (I’m a cheap date and NO I’m not reporting it to the state) and headed home to work on my subtraction tables.


Sarah Mac said...

Oh Catherine, I DO love your blog. the cakes, the step back to the 70's, ALL of it.

Every now and then there's a serious note but it's delivered in a lighthearted way.

I watch my sister doing a very similar thing with her battle with MS and I know it can be a lot tougher than you both let on.

I'm full of admiration for you both and good on you for being part of a study that might help shed some light and who knows, someday go towards a cure for this condition.

Kathy G said...

I've read about computer animators putting markers on people so they can improve the quality of CGI movies and video games, but it's exciting that there's medical uses, too.

Just Another Thought Online said...

I've participated in a few studies (since I am a broke college student). I agree that the researchers do forget that the subjects are human beings. But hey, $35.00 isn't too bad for a little ginea pig work.

Glad to have found you through the Laddy Bloggers.

Beachside Cottage said...

Hi - Am visiting via the Over 40 blog hop! Nice to meet you!

You are brave! Good for you doing the study - I'm like you - mine is a blood/injection phobia - i pass out whenever I have to have blood taken - a real pain!

Anyhow - Am your Newest Follower (happy news!)

Hope you have a great weekend! Stay well and keep joy in your heart!


Catherine said...

@Sarah Mac- as you already know- it's a mutual admiration society! We just need to keep plodding along in our own lovely ways.

I'm fairly fortunate in my MS (weird to say) and I don't like whining about but nor am I going to pretend it's not part of my life so it will show up in the blog.

I'm sorry about your sister and hope she is not too impacted.

Catherine said...

Welcome! I'm glad you found enough to interest you over here to keep reading! And I'll discuss n-e-e-d-l-e-s as little as possible!

Sydney Shop Girl said...

Thanks for this post, Catherine!

It's interesting knowing what it's like being in clinical trials.

Hope you spent your cash wisely - on yourself :-)

SSG xxx

Sydney Shop Girl blog

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