Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Back to the grind

I'm back home. I have to admit that I shed tears at the airport (after 8 hours in airports, anybody might). I finished a book waiting on my flight from Dallas to Waco (which was about an hour late), and just sat there and cried.

Fortunately for me, I have great friends in Waco! Despite the fact that my flight landed at 9:55 p.m., I had a welcoming party in the terminal! My good friends, family really, were there with balloons, cards, posters, and chocolate! My little brother even came to meet me! (Sorry, teachers, that he was sleepy today in school!)

I spent my first full day back in Waco by returning to my old construction crew. We were rebuilding a warehouse room for a non-profit food and emergency funds organization. They had a fire several years ago and were just getting around to repairs.

It was bittersweet to be back outside exerting myself. I got a little too much sun today and am a little pink, but I didn't need any Vitamin D pills, did I?

I also hit the snooze button today and had a diet soda (with caffeine) for lunch. I hadn't been able to do that in two weeks. Also bittersweet. I'd rather be head down in a fishbowl.

Ah well. The earth keeps spinning and I have to buck up and move on. There are folks out there who have been diagnosed with cancer or who lost all their possessions or who lost their jobs. I got to have a really fantastic two week paid vacation.

Forgive me for complaining. My life is good.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's over


It's with great sadness that I announce that I have been dismissed from the NASA flight analog bed rest study. My veins proved too difficult to access, and they have run out of alternatives that meet both protocol and the approval of the board that protects human subjects during testing.

I am heading home soon. I must pack and say goodbye to those who are working here today.

Thanks for following along with my journey.

Gin the earth-bound monkey

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pushing back head down

I've got to write quick. I've only got 15 minutes til lights out, but I wanted to let you all know about today and the future.

I had a bunch of cardio tests today. They were 0 for 3 on the veins (total = 25), but they came really close, and they used an ultrasound machine to direct the needle into the vein. Trouble was, the cath was too short for my deep veins. It wouldn't thread. So, we did everything cardio that we could without blood draws. It was a lot of ultrasounds and blood pressures and a nitroglycerin tablet.

On the bright side, we got a new guy today! Blue is here, and we watched Inside Man and played some poker. That's why I don't have much time to write. He he.

I'll catch you up more later. For now, my testing for tomorrow has been rescheduled. I was supposed to go head down tomorrow, but they're pushing it back a couple of days until we can get some more testing in. At least, I hope so.

I've got to get to bed. Goodnight space monkey friends!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Can I borrow your veins?

Well, we tried today to do a dorsal hand vein test. Nurse M. came again and . . . long story short, 5 sticks later (total sticks = 22), he left. He did a great job, and we even had the cath in on one shot, but it kinked up and he had to pull it out.

He's really good. I hardly have any bruising. It was really not painful at all.

Tomorrow morning we try to do the cardio testing again. These are tests that we were going to do on Thursday, but couldn't.

Meanwhile, I've spent the day playing Guitar Hero and reading in the common room (pictured below). From the common room, you can see the Gulf, and from my bedroom window, I could see two cruise ships today!

Don't be sad for me. I'm still having fun! Monitor K. and I got out a plastic bowling set and played some hospital hallway bowling. We're so silly here. It's so fun! You should come join us!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

First Dorsal Foot Vein Test

Woo hoo! I had a needle in my foot for 4 hours, and it was great!

Having been scared that my problematic veins would send me packing, I'm now a fan of needles and desire to be stuck! Every day gets me one step closer to head down, and that's a good thing!

It was a crazy day, though. At 2 a.m. (I'm told) we lost power for a few seconds. At 6:30, the lights started flickering about once every 30 minutes, and there was a horrid alarm going off in the nurses' station for about 4 hours.

My next door neighbor, Purple, had a dorsal foot vein procedure scheduled between 8 and 12 this morning. They started the test, but every time the power flickered, the computers would restart and they'd have to begin the test again! She finally got done around 3, and then I began to be prepped at 3:30.

Cardio nurse M. was back, and he put a heating pad on my foot. The veins in my foot are more visible than the ones on my hand, and he felt confident.

Sticks #15 and #16 of the journey didn't find any blood, though it seemed like a sure thing. He heated and looked at the other foot, then returned to a different vein on the left foot. This time, with all our positive energy sent to my foot, he got it!

We weren't sure for about 15 minutes that it was really a perfect stick, but from that point on, things went smoothly. It's so neat to see your vein on screen as it reacts to small doses of medication that constrict or dilate it. Though I mostly watched Fiddler on the Roof, I occasionally glanced over and . . . WOW is all I can say. That was so cool. (Read about the procedure.)

Blessings on you who head to worship tomorrow. I'm going to have the exact same procedure done on my hand starting at about 8 a.m. but know that I'll be thinking of you at Lake Shore!


Friday, March 27, 2009

News from NASA

As of this evening, the NASA scientists and doctors are trying to get approval from dozens of sources to alter my protocol and access my blood in different ways. Nothing has been decided yet, but the fact that they are pursuing new ideas is so encouraging.

Tomorrow at 12:30, I have a Dorsal Foot Vein test. I'll be strapped to a bed for about 4 hours while they pump small doses of powerful medicine into a vein in my foot. I'm so excited!

Contest #2

Alright Space Monkey friends, it's time for race #2. I've been tearing up newspaper this morning in prep for paper mache. What I need from all of you out there are ideas for what to make. The best idea for a paper mache project will receive an official NASA crew patch sticker!

Ideas will be judged on creativity and feasibility, and I will give 12 hours (10 a.m. to 10 p.m.) for submission of ideas by any means.

Meanwhile, I have no news about the cardio team's decisions. Things have otherwise stayed on schedule. I had a functional fitness test yesterday, a functional neurological test this morning, and t-reflex this afternoon. We watched a scary movie yestersday - Quarantine. Phew! I don't watch many scary movies. Green (another guy here) mostly just laughed at me while I shivered and jumped around.

Good times, folks. Good times.

Oh, and word is that we're getting two new subjects next week! Yea!