Tuesday, August 27, 2013

You're In Science!

Today I went to the University of Washington Medical Center to participate as a health control in a study involving kidney function.
I like to do studies; I don't have the head for science but I'm glad to be part of it. I find lots of studies to join in on the web and would recommend them to anyone who isn't scared by a blood draw. Here's a bunch.
Today's study was about kidney function. Kidneys are very important, if you like to keep on living and one of the ways they study how your kidneys are working is to take a urine sample. So after about an hour of filling out questionaires and having my blood drawn and various other measurements and tests, it was time to wrap things up with The Final Cup. 
"Anything else you'd like to ask?" said the Research Assistant, a cheerful middle-aged lady.
"Yes," I said. The room was on an upper floor, far from the tastefully decorated hospital area. Most of the furniture was slightly worn - stury and clean, but not new. But on top of the highest cabinet was a square candle in a jar, flanked by two tea lights. "What's that about?"
Her co-worker snickered and turned away. The RA laughed and explained.
You understand, sometimes we have to collect urine over the course of several days. When subjects are at home, they have to store the stuff and bring it in ; we recommend refrigerating it of course, because the chemicals break down at room temperature. However we were totally sure how they all break down.
So we got a large enough sample, at set it out at room temperature. We checked it every hour, then at wider intervals, to see how it changed chemically. After three days we had enough data and could end the experiment.
The only way to survive such a thing is scented candles. LOTS of scented candles.
Science is awesome, and sometimes a little scary, but it can also be as funny as heck! 

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