This is the Life of a Redhead



Friday, March 9, 2012

Rough Draft - UCLA Medical Study


In December I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis, an embarrassing chronic condition that affects the bladder. It's a little-understood condition, so I qualified for a medical study at UCLA Medical Center. I've been involved in 2 separate studies so far, but the more interesting was the one on Pain Tolerance. Here's an extremely rough draft of what happened -- I've had major writer's block, sadly, so this is the best I can do for the moment.



INTRO – Arriving at UCLA medical center. Test subject in an experiment for pain tolerance in relation to patients with Interstitial Cystitis, Painful Bladder Syndrome, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (I only have the former, though technically IC and PBS are sometimes diagnosed interchangeably.)

-       Describe waiting room. Tiny cramped & disorganized room. Large wooden chair, TV that is clearly 5 – 10 years old (still with a VCR player built in.) Computer monitor is a touch screen but weirdly seems outs of date as well – think of computers that run Windows XP (what age is that?)
-       Assistant. What is her name? Petite Asian girl with long black hair. I guess I can omit her real name. I feel like it was Tina so I will call her Tina in this piece.
-       Tina waits on me in cramped room and leads me to electrode room which is more of a doctor’s office/research lab. Weird redhaired undergrad is sitting in the room. He is supposed to watch her put on the electrodes but never comes over?

Four electrodes are strapped to my forehead, and two more on my collarbone. The grad student tries to add two more two my cheeks, but after a few minutes the exfoliate begins to itch and then burn and my cheek feels like it’s having a spasm and I keep grinning foolishly in a strange way to scratch the skin and relieve the itch. The grad student looks at my strangely and asks me if I’m comfortable, and I laugh at nothing and shyly ask for the cheek electrodes to be removed. She reaches over and yanks the electrode on my right cheek, and the sensation, like ripping off a bandaid, is not painful but relieving, and I feel like I could easily become addicted to peeling adhesives off my body if it could remedy a burning itch each time.
            Two more electrodes are placed to my index and middle fingers, making eight in total. I’m led back to the waiting room and sit in the chair, waiting for the test administrator to arrive. I try to fish my book out of my purse, but the electrodes are connected to wires which have been plugged into the wall. When I try to bend down, I yank too hard and the electrodes on my forehead threaten to pop off. I stop moving just in time to keep them fixated to my skin.

- Am I using electrode too much? Synonyms for this? Metaphor/simile anything? Small circles with colored wires (red, yellow, white are all I can remember) plugged into a wall. Tadpoles? No.