I’m in a control group of a health study at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Being in the control group means I live my life as always, except every now and then I get poked and prodded to see if I have deteriorated without any help.
The way it works is, I get a reminder call from Pennington saying my appointment is still on and that it will take four hours. “What? Geez Louise, that is long” is the immediate thought racing through my head.
I can quit, but I’m not a quitter. Besides, I’m afraid they have secretly implanted a microchip that will cause severe pain if I drop out. (Just kidding)
On this visit, I had to do a weigh-in. I was asked to strip down to my skivvies in a room with a “bio-hazard” sign on the door. That was a little disconcerting. Socks are optional at the weigh-in. I could have gone “commando” but that would have been unpleasant for me and certainly for the staff nurse.
The weigh-in becomes a nightmare caused by the gown they ask you to wear. It has a complicated series of three, string ties that you have to somehow bind together. It takes a great deal of dexterity and you fear that one tie will fall open and then, “look out Irene.”
I somehow got all of the strings tied and felt reasonably comfortable. Then I had a flashback to my prior visit. I remember closing only *two sets of ties. I don’t remember any laughter when I walked down the hall to the weigh-in station. Maybe they were speechless because of a ghastly sight.
A pleasant LPN staff nurse named Amy assisted me on this weigh-in and drew my blood. She even laughed at my attempts at humor. I guess they teach that in staff nursing school.
In the past five years it has become increasingly difficult to get my blood flowing without three or four sticks. And, it seems the initial blood person has to call in an ace reliever from the bullpen to complete the job.
Amy did it in one shot and bragged a little. I was happy. That was followed by a long process of drawing blood, filling vials, throwing some away and then having me rest for 30 minutes before repeating the process.
If that wasn’t bad enough, I had to sit through nearly an hour of “Live with Kelly and Michael” on television. The highlight of the show was watching Ripa and Strahan use shears to cut some guy’s very long “virgin hair.” It could have been worse; Kathie Lee could have been there.
For a distraction, I considered asking Amy to draw blood from my chest.
At one point, I was given a 10-ounce sweet concoction to drink. An ingredient in the drink is “FD and C Yellow No. 6.” I wonder if “FD and C Yellow No. 5” is better for you?
I dozed off as I waited for another blood draw. A woman, part of another study, said as I awoke, “You sure got comfortable.” I wonder if that is code for, “Dude, you were snoring.”
I left being very impressed by Amy’s work. She had even agreed to pose for a photo while taking my blood.
But, there was a thought that I could not shake. Was my gown completely closed when she weighed me?
Ed Pratt is a former Advocate editor. He is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.