Category Archives: Medical Testing

Being A Stubborn Sick Person

Those who know me personally will know that I am stubborn as a mule. We’ve already established in previous posts that I hate asking for help (and am still yet to do my help challenge six months on). This week’s stubbornness and argumentative battle is between me and multiple viruses, bacteria and fungi.  And believe me when I say I am seriously pissed.

The unexpected visitors arrived on Australia Day and sent me home from work to roll around in a pool of my own feverous sweat instead of drunkenly rolling around in the sweat of others with my friends at a club party. Despite how upset this made me, I was determined to not lose my income as well so I drugged myself to the eyeballs so I couldn’t feel my face and went to work only to have my colleagues force me to go home by lunch.

By Friday, and still in a state of extreme high from my marvelous concoction, I’d contracted a stomach virus on top of the cold and I was exhausted. I curled up in a ball on my yoga mat underneath my desk on the office floor and passed out for an hour and a half. Upon waking, I discover that kids have walked past the door, saw me on the floor and decided to raise the alarm. I am lucky that my boss found this funny and told them it was fine. Apparently “surviving” is an appropriate way to spend professional planning time. “Planning efficient use of the little energy one has in her expenditure”.

Anyway, I survived to the weekend. I had barely eaten in 4 days (apparently naming your stomach infection Billy Bob and celebrating the loss of 5 kg and getting skinny is not the appropriate thing to do in this case) and I figured that by the end of the weekend I could kick it. And let’s be honest, I was also bored as hell and couldn’t do any more movies. So I haul arsed out of bed and went down the road to buy 6 chicken Kievs and a couple of onions.

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Onion all be just chillin’ on the desk and shit.

According to the Internet onions in your sock help detox the body. And garlic in your ears acts as an anti inflammatory. And cut onions in your room absorb all the nasties. As a scientist I put all of this to the test and sat eating 3 of my Kievs upon return of appetite rolling around in onions with garlic in my ears watching Bridget Jones (I may or may not also have been high on cough syrup). And while all of this may have worked in my mind (or it could have been the drugs), it was one of the few entertaining days I had whilst I’ll on my own with nobody to entertain me.

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Hanging with some Bridget Jones with some garlic in my ears

Add to this whole thing that I have been having voiceless shouting matches with my moron landlord about the mould problem in my room and I was in fighting form. Imagine my response to ‘but the leak is from clean water so the mould should be clean mould’.

 

 

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Yep, that be some pretty clean looking mould right there.

Anyway come Sunday, I am worse again, and I have gotten fed up with this shit. I can’t afford the loss of income so I dragged arse to the walk in clinic. My friend Tim always says “by the time you make it to a doctor you are about 36 hours too late”. He ain’t wrong. Though in this case it’s about 4 days too late.

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Onion slices in the socks and ready to go!

 

So they will apparently see me in 2 hours after their massive waiting list wanes and sent me off to entertain myself for a while. So here I sit in Pret A Manger drinking hot chocolate, high again on cough syrup and drugs “finding Wally” (a man in a Wally hat as he goes up and down the street much to my humour) waiting to be reunited with my bestie after a 2 month hiatus of friendship ridiculousness. With a bit of luck that will be it for my 2 yearly visit to a doctor and I can go back to being a lucid, face-feeling human being instead of living life like that song by The Weekend. “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you…..”

TWO HOURS LATER…..

After passing the painful waiting room time with a bestie catch up, I managed to get in to see a doctor. She graciously gave me the most kick arse antibiotics she had in her cupboard. She also sent me off with what I like to refer to as “my ventolin bong” to open my airways. Between the pure sweet smell of oxygen and salbutamol, the tasty tastiness of cough syrup and antibiotics coursing through my veins, I am starting to feel somewhat normal.

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Me and my new ‘ventolin bong’ hanging about drinking tea with my bestie in the Costa Coffee.

Go home, roll around on the shower floor for a while because that is what you do when you are ill and high (or drunk), then step on scales…. wonder a) how high actually am I because scale gives ridiculously low number? b) after double checking said figure about four times wonder how I have managed to lose 12kg in 6 days…. and c) decided this was enough of a reason to eat 3 more chicken Kievs. Well done Billy Bob. You did good. High five! Shame about you immune system. You suck….

 

 

 

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Things I Have Done To Make Money

As I approach the first “grown up person job” in a while, I thought it might be fun to look back on some of the crazy different jobs I have worked and other things I have done to make money to fund my travels…. Some of it is pretty funny so enjoy!

  • 14  years old…. 1st job… KFC. Did it so much some nights I would come home and dream of putting chicken into a box with tongs… nuff said!
  • Singing in pub bands. First pub band was Freefall and some of the best times of my life. Started at 17, still somewhat ongoing. On and off I have played more gigs with bands such as Alphanumeric, Platinum Datsun,  Multigroove (Melbourne) and quite a lot of acoustic duo work.
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Typical Friday evening pub gig at the Royal Oak Hotel in Launceston, Tasmania, with my good friend Andy.

  • Driving a 50 ton suspended crane in an aluminium smelter. 12 hour rotational shifts in the baking furnace baking carbon anodes to be used in the electrolysis process. Dirty and hot work.
  • Farming… cabbage harvesting, poppy seed harvesting, broccoli harvesting, organic farm work, more poppy harvesting….
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Eastport Organics Farm, Newfoundland, Canada where I gardened and weeded for a week or so for food and accommodation.

  • Laboratory technician for a biotech company. Mostly sterilization, chemical solution preparation and dish washing.
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Hanging out with my good mate Cyril the Skeleton in the lab.

  • First Year Chemistry Department at Monash University. Fingers in so many pies here…. Laboratory demonstrations, tutorials, exam marking, practical design, preparation of chemicals, troubleshooting, the one on one help centre.
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One of my lab classes at Monash University in the First Year Chemistry Department.

  • Folding children’s clothes at a kids clothing shop.
  • Selling watches and handbags
  • Selling hair and make up products at Aveda.
  • Singing in the drag bars of Toronto as support for Drag Queens or as a part of ensemble shows. I swear this was one of the most fun jobs I have ever done! Too good!
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Another Christina Aguilera number in Crews and Tangos, one of my favourite Drag Bars to sing in.

  • Medical testing…. I have written a blog post about this. I spent a lot of time doing non invasive brain function tests for the hospital research centre.
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Chilling in the the medical research lab with my EEG cap on ready to do some testing on perception of musical tones

  • Walking flyers and posters around the neighborhoods.  I have done this for at least a good 3 months every day.
  • Online reviews of cities and hostels.
  • Driving forklifts, doing crop reception and sweeping and shoveling for poppy harvest.
  • Substitute teaching and short term contract teaching involving every single subject you can possibly think of including kindergarten music.
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A surprise some of my year 7 students left on the board for me on my last day of teaching them for 3 weeks.

 

  • Can collecting and bottle return… (may or may not have stolen cans from campground recycling bins throughout eastern Canada to fund our accommodation and petrol bill.
  • Online surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Cleaning and managing the front desk at a backpackers hostel.
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Cleaning at the hostel was dirty work. The “Friendly Morning Cleaning Lady” left lots of interesting notes, like this one with regards to the handsoap in the mens shower…..

  • Promotions and marketing…. now this is a big one because each of the jobs I do are different. Many many sampling programs for things like milk, shampoo, icy hot packs, cans of Nestea and Quakers bars. There is also lots of hustling different contests. Below we will specify some of the more ridiculous jobs.
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Looking like a Ghostbuster while distributing free hot chocolates to the masses in winter.

  • Driving a popsicle van for 3 weeks.
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Chillin’ in my popsicle van and distributing the joy of flavoured ice.

  • Dressing up in ridiculous costumes such as Shaun the Sheep or Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.
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Dressed as Timmy the Sheep and trying to hide from all the kids during break that were pulling on my tail and grabbing at me. Hard and hot work.

  • Placing stickers on men’s urinals in pubs so they can pee on teams they don’t like.
  • Filming a commercial for Edo Japan as the Edo Elf.
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Out on the streets as the Edo Elf. This guy told me all kinds of fun stories about his days in the Masad…. ummm… yeah right…. not quite sure about that one.

While this is a non-comprehensive list as I am sure I have probably forgotten something, it is still pretty ridiculous and funny. What is the worst job you have ever had? And better yet, is there anything here you’d like to know more about? Happy reading and I look forward to your input! 🙂

Being A Human Guinea Pig

As promised from the previous article “Five Different Ways To Challenge Yourself Daily”, my experiences with the medical testing world.

So when work keeps telling you consistently ‘sorry there are just no hours this week’ (which to be honest is a crock of shit, but we are trying to keep this light and the topic of workplace rights and legislation in Canada makes me very angry), we resort to the only thing we know for more work…. Craigslist.

There is a marvel of things you can find in the ‘ETC.’ section of the Toronto Craigslist and so this is how my run as a human guinea pig began. ‘Oh you will pay me a couple of hundred dollars to do a PET scan and and MRI? No problem! You want to pay me to stick electrodes to my head and play me pulses to see how my brain responds? No problem! And so it goes on.

To clarify, there are specific types of testing that I am not willing to do. For one, I am not happy about being a guinea pig for drug trials. I don’t particularly feel that my ovaries or the rest of my body would be appreciative of me pumping it full something in it that is going to render my parts dysfunctional for a measly couple of hundred bucks. But if you want to look at how my body functions normally by doing a series of tests, then be my guest. As a scientist, I am more than happy to do my part for science.

So, here we go….

The other day I went to the geriatrics hospital. They do a lot of research for Alzheimer’s and other degenerative brain disorders and I have done multiple experiments for them. Of the most basic is the EEG, which is where you go in, they strap electrodes to your brain, put some earplugs in and they make you listen to semitone sounds on ‘ooh’ or ‘ahh’ and make you hit buttons to tell you if it is an ‘ooh’ or an ‘aah’. The best part about this is the second part where they make you listen to random sounds for an hour while you watch a kids movie on silent. For me it was a crazy movie about a raccoon that steals and destroys a bears stash of food for the winter and then sets about manipulating other animals into reacquiring what it is that he lost by stealing from the humans. Awesomely funny, even if it is on mute with subtitles. I did this twice before I started getting called in for different tests.

Other EEG tasks I have done have been musical tests where I listen to two sounds and decide if they are the same or different and then replicate the sounds singing later. I have also done tests where they give you 35 sets of 2 completely unrelated words and you have to try and develop a correlation between them in five seconds so that later when they flash you the first word, you have to remember the second word. Hugely frustrating as this is most difficult of the tasks I had ever been given. One time I also had to sit with an eye movement tracker on while I watched a series of video clips and pictures to see where I was looking at on the screen.

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Smashing out some memory games with the electrode cap on

Two days ago they did a test on my memory and how the brain stores information. They sat me at a computer and they would flash a word at me like ‘giraffe’. I would then as quickly as possible determine whether it is living or non living using the buttons strapped to my fingers. From there I had to do this really quick mathematical addition in my head with numbers flashing up on the screen at me and then decide whether the number they showed me at the end was the correct answer to the addition. From there, you then have to recall the word. They do all of this while you are strapped into an MRI machine measuring the different activities of your brain in doing the sums and the recall. The hypothesis that they are testing is whether or not the long term memory is more effective when you focus more on the word that you have to remember or when you are busy with a distractor task, ie. the maths sums. Strangely enough, they have been finding that the words that you do the distractor task with are more likely to be remembered long term as the way that these words are processed in the brain is different. Really interesting study. Probably why I did so well at university studying with the TV on, the radio on, talking on the phone and trying to read at the same time! Me being as competitive as I am too, I had to try and beat my own scores and the scores of others with the decision making and the maths. I was killing it to a point. 85-90% 🙂 Not bad when the average is around 60-70% for the maths! Looks like all of the learning books and the brain training games are paying off!

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MRI scan of my brain. I told people I have one, they didn’t believe me

Of the most lucrative and probably most uncomfortable of the medical tests that I have done was the PET scan. After doing a two hour screening of different IQ type tests with shapes and logic and a psychological evaluation, they sent me off to do the scan. They put me in a hospital gown, laid me onto the table and then started to put in the arterial line in my left wrist. Luckily they hit it the first time so it wasn’t too bad in the healing process. They put the radiotracer into my right arm and then I pretty much laid in the machine for 2 hours while they scanned my brain to see where the radiotracer was collecting and if it was more concentrated in specific areas of the brain or not for a specific enzyme that they are attributing to swelling in the brain that is related to depression.

They took different blood samples from my wrist throughout the experiment to look at the concentration of the radiotracer in my blood and I have to say it wasn’t the most comfortable of situations. What I didn’t realize was that they actually put a plaster cast thing over your face to lock it into place for the scan so that your head doesn’t move. So here I am, head locked in in a plaster cast, needles sticking out of my arms, the most ADHD I have ever been and all I wanted to do was go for a dance or move around or do something! The two hours were finally up, I had my arterial line out, went for a 20 minute MRI and took my cash for the day. More money than I would have earned in the space of a week and a half working for minimum wage in Toronto on half a day of being a guinea pig for the advancement of science. I will most certainly take that.

I do find all of these things quite interesting so in the grand scheme of travelling, it is something new and different to add to the resume and it pays quite well. And hey, it is just another thing to tell the grandkids right? Provided that my memory holds out in the long run. Hopefully my participation in research will help them find ways to overcome memory degeneration with age so that I can continue to achieve my million and one goals. And so I won’t have to be a drunk nana in a nursing home rocking chair on the porch enjoying the blissful ignorance of my existence.