24 October 2007

Guinea Pig

Within the first few minutes of meeting Joe, he informed me that I would have to stick something up my butt, in my ear and in my throat. He also informed me that I would have to wear about 20 pounds of mining equipment, that he would have to shave part of my body hair, and that I would have to work out in a room at 30 degree Celsius for over 4 hours in total. After all this, for some strange reason, I said Yes, I would agree to all this. And Oh ya, I had a choice in the matter, but still went ahead and agreed to his terms.

What exactly was this for, you ask? Well it was all in the name of science. I am realizing that many a man has ventured far and wide through dangerous situations in the name of God, but there may be just as many who have done so in the name of Newton, Bohr, and Watson-Crick. You see, I recently volunteered to be in a science experiement.

Like many similar volunteers, it all started with a small ad to which was attached a cut-off telephone number. His name was Joe and he was promising a free VO2 Max test. It caught my eye, so I thought I would send him an email to find out more. Indeed he was still looking for volunteers and I could swing by in the coming days to find out more information; at that point, there was no mention of the future probes that would be involved.

Upon meeting Joe, I was encouraged. Here I was at a reputable University, agreeing to sacrifice a few hours of my time in hopes of helping Joe complete his Thesis research. I truly felt avant-garde. Joe went on to explain that the tests were dealing with the temperature effects on miners. What with the recent mining disasters, it was pretty clear there was money to be made in this field, as safety measures and public opinion could only lead to fewer CNN moments somewhere in the hills of West Virginia.

As he showed me some of the equipment and continued on with a description of the experiment, my mind was stuck on the words rectal probe. Hmmm. Having had pneumonia as a child, I remembered where the body's most accurate temperature reading could be had, but I wasn't too fond of sticking something up there. Well, I said to myself, it can't be that bad if people are volunteering to do it.

As it turned out, it actually wasn't that bad. Of course, leading up to the trial runs, my mind tended to remember a much bigger radius to the probe, and I feared sticking a wire probe down my throat. But when I got to the lab on the 2nd day (the first day was my VO2 max test - a reading of your body's aerobic capacity; I also had my body composition analysed with calipers. The good news is that I am above average in terms of body fat - above average signifying thinness in this case.), I had some good news. The person responsible for the esophogeal tube was not available. Although the rectal probe may cause many to shy away, Joe informed me that the esophogeal probe was by far the most discomforting aspect of the experiment. I had to take his word on that one, and was glad to limit the number of oriphices through which I would be sticking a probe that day.

Then of course came the "tail", as Joe colourfully described it. The probe was actually much smaller than I remembered, and this seemed easy. Joe's advice was to relax. Ya thanks, we all know this, but you try relaxing when you are sticking something up your ass. Off I went into the toilet stall. My instructions were simple: stick the probe into my rectum to a length of approximately 15 cm. Well, let me just the old ruler out there, and fire that thing up there. As I had been open to others about my undertaking, I was feeling pretty at ease as I went it. Strangely enough however, as I lowered my shorts, my knees buckled a little. I started having a bit of anxiety over the fact that I was willingly putting this probe in me. The panic was only sudden and I went about my business. At one point, it actually seemed as though I was enjoying it all, but I quickly struck down those thoughts - it was time to be professional! Ok, in honesty, I hardly felt a thing. It strangely was fairly easy to do. This way, if I find myself in need of performing a self-enema one day, it won't seem so foreign to me. Ya, that is how I rationalized the whole thing.

When I came out, Joe informed me that I would have to put on 11 thermal patches. In order for them not to stick, he had to shave me. I went through the motions, including one pose he called the Playboy pose. When he was finished, I had 1/2 my stomach hair shaved - that would look great for weeks to come. On top of that, he told me to bend over. Excuse me? Um, I already have something up my butt, now what. Well, he had to attach the monitor to my rectal thermal probe. Oh, phew.

Next came heavy boots, a big helmet, an ear probe, the mining suit, a betl with 5 pound battery, and I was all set for the testing. Over the next 2 and 1/2 hours I worked out dilligently for Joe. He made me walk on a treadmill, pull some levers, sit in a chair (for what he called my union break), stand up, do some dumbell curls, and march on the spot. Most of this was at little to no exertion. On that 2nd day, the temperature was a comfortable 20 degrees Celsius. The 3rd day I went through the same motions, but at 30 degrees Celsius - big difference. As it turned out, I lost about 5 pounds in total. I don't really have 5 pounds to lose, but if that was my payment to science, then your welcome Linus Pauling. Oh and thank you for a good time, you really know how to treat a guy.


Anonymous said...

???!! Where do you find these things? I have no other comment....other than you were strangely silent on this matter at book club last night!

Anonymous said...

I hope that you returned that rectal probe; since it was barely noticeable and all you might have left it up there by "accident".

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