Phase 2 was a piece of dehydrated chicken compared to phase 1. I drove down on Thursday morning and at 11 a.m. was picked up and taken back onto the Johnson Space Center property for what I was told was a Vitamin D lab. Little did I know that it involved more blood work!
Both the male and female doctor who drew blood from my arms during phase 1 remembered me as the lady searched and searched for a vein. Like last time, the first stick found nothing but air, so I got stuck a second time (6 times now in all) and had a little blood drawn for study. Then, it was down to Galveston to meet the folks at UTMB!
Galveston was hit really hard by Hurricane Ike last August, and it's still recovering. The UTMB facility is at 200 of 500 beds, and does not have an ER/Trauma Center back yet. Mostly, it's urgent care and labor and delivery. The 6th floor, where I'll be, is also a children's floor, and the bright walls and decorations are cheering, but the empty halls and rooms just make it eerie.
UTMB is literally right on the coast, and cruise ships will be sailing past the hospital regularly, I'm sure.
When I arrived, I found two male subjects in the common room watching The Dark Knight with their "test monitors," the lovely folks who's jobs are to be our hands and feet. There was also a female subject, but she had checked in that morning and was in a test. Another female is scheduled to start Monday and then I'm in on Wednesday, so for the first time in study history (I was told) the females will outnumber the males when I check in! Go girls!
The two guys have been in UTMB before, for different NASA tests, and are old pros at life on the unit. They'll be good folks to learn from. I also met two other guys who are in the screening process. It looks like one big happy family!
The nurses and dietician and monitors and other staff seem like great folks. I'm looking forward to getting to know them better. They had a jigsaw puzzle out, video and board games stacked high, and smiles on their faces. If it was just an act for me, it worked! But I think it'll be great down there.
That was it for my first day. On day two I met with the psychologist to discuss coping techniques and potential stressors. "You mean that laying in a bed 24 hours a day for 60 days might make me go crazy? Nah!"
Then after lunch I sat down with the bed rest coordinator and a lead scientist who walked me through all the details of the study for a couple of hours so that there would be no denying that I knew what I was getting into. Most of the material covered the medical procedures that I would be going through, and I'd be lying if it wasn't a little scary to hear about being poked and proded over and over again, but like I've said before, these folks are good. I'm not worried about my health.
It continued to rain off and on the whole time I was in Houston and the drive back was tough, but I'm back in Waco now for three days. I've got to be on a red-eye flight back to Houston on Tuesday morning. Admit. to the hospital is Wednesday, March 18th! I have so much to do!