Thursday, March 22, 2012

Research Project

This week's adventure:

Undergraduate research project.

The other researchers and I have met every week since the beginning of the semester, trying to plan and get ready for this bad boy. On Monday we finally started the actual research portion.

The project consists of taking waist circumference measurements, body fat percentages, and blood glucose levels.

Each of these tests have a lot of moments that are (to borrow a popular blogging trend) awkward and awesome.*

In order to fully understand the experience, let's pretend you're volunteering and take a virtual tour shall we?


"Hello there! No this isn't the (much more popular/better advertised) fraternity blood drive. This is a research project. Would you like to participate?"

"Great! Go ahead and start over by the curtain, they'll give you some forms and a survey."

Test 1: Waist Circumference.

"Ok! Hi. Will you please find the very top of your hips and place your thumbs on that spot? No. Not there. On your side. No. Never mind. Excuse me while I place my hands on your waist until I find them. If you have a lot of girth it'll take some maneuvering. If you don't, it might still take some time as I enjoy your washboard abs. A rarity. Stop giggling. Great! Now I'm just going to measure this... What's that? You'd like to lift up your shirt for a more accurate measurement? Sure. Yup. Go right ahead. All right! You can move on to the next station."

Test 2: Body Fat Percentage

"Well, to begin, will you please remove your right shoe and sock? You're wearing tights? There's a bathroom around the corner... if you wouldn't mind. Wonderful! Now lay down with your head here and feet there. Spread your arms about 8 inches from your waist, your legs about 12 inches apart. Farther. Farther. (To self, REALLY?) There you go! Just hold still while I attach these electrodes to your (hairy. bony. occasionally smelly. oh gag me.) feet and hands. Perfect, I'm going to run the machine now, just hold still. No, it's not a high enough electrical current to shock you. Courtesy chuckle. Because I've only heard that joke 259 times before. Very clever sir.** You're all done! Put your shoe, and sock, back on and go around the curtain for your next test.

Test 3:

"Hi, come on and sit down! Right or left hand? Yes just a small poke. Very small. Several people say they didn't even feel anything. One boy screamed. No come back! I was kidding. Really. He just did that to scare people. He said it actually felt like a vacation in Bermuda. Clean off your middle OR ring finger with this alcohol wipe. And then let it air dry, don't touch it or blow on it. (Usually said while person is in the middle of blowing.) Oh boy your hands are very cold. I'm just going to rub your finger a little to get your circulation going. We call it milking the finger. So you know, if this nutrition major thing doesn't work out for me I can always be a farmer!*** (Receive blank stare.) I hope this isn't weird for you, because I looooooooove giving hand massages to strangers. I'll try not to make eye contact with you while doing so. Ready? Just a small poke now... There we go! Cue one of three responses;

1. Upon seeing blood bubble up - Wonderful! Oh you are a great bleeder! (Every participant's dream, I'm sure.)

2. Upon seeing blood come out and not bubble but spread all over the finger - Oh. Wow. Ok. Umm that's really weird. What the heck is wrong with you? What do I do with this? (Inspires confidence every time.)

3. Upon seeing such a tiny amount of blood that not even Edward would be turned on - Hmm. Just hold on while I continue to squeeze your finger. And squeeze. And rub. And squeeze. Are you sure you even have blood?

Phew. Now that I have enough, I'm just going to put it into this contraption that mixes it with a solution and I'll deposit it into the test machine. Here's a cotton ball for your wound. Apply pressure. Would you like a band-aid? No they're just plain.**** Now we wait for five minutes while the test runs. Have you finished your survey? You have? Well then, we get to make awkward chit chat while you wait, isn't that lovely? Bonus points if you're my ex-boyfriend. You know, the one that I just kind of stopped talking to. Sooooooo. How have you been since I last saw you? (Three months ago) You miss me? Yeah, me neither. Alrighty then!

Here are your results. It looks like your number falls in the non-diabetic range. Congratulations! Thanks for coming in! Tell your friends!

So yes. Many an awkward moment. But the awesome part is, I really loved it. I loved talking to people, teaching them a little bit about the tests, about nutrition, and even taking the tests. I may be a little bit excited about my future, can you believe it? Very awesome indeed.

*Yes, yes I am stealing a popular blogging phrase in a blatant attempt to boost my numbers.
**Sir. So a different gender than the aforementioned person who took off tights. Thank goodness.
***I never actually made that joke (out loud). Even I have a lame-ness limit.
****Seriously the most frequently asked question. The next day I brought super hero band aids and was the most popular person person. Fetchin' college students.

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