Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The One with the Science Experiment

Hi friends!

I'm still unemployed because boy-oh-boy I love giving people I don't know the ability to stomp on my self esteem. I find keeping busy lessens the likelihood I feel poorly about myself, so with that in mind, I signed up to participate in a research project by a grad student at UPEI. Today was my first of nine sessions, a sort of intro session and likely the chance to determine if I wasn't a good candidate for the research. Without going into detail on the purpose of the research as I don't want to run into any privacy issues, I shall tell you about today's adventures.

Things started off well. I had my finger pricked to determine blood things. I guess my blood was fine, which is nice after my recent denial from Canadian Blood Services as a donor, as we then advanced to the blood pressure checking phase. Blood pressure was also fine and consistent on the extreme low end of the normal range. Next up was getting my height and weight which was easy as by virtue of existing I have size and mass.

Side note because when you're unemployed sometimes you need to make intelligent side notes to help you feel like you still have a brain: allow me to remind you of the important difference between mass and weight. While not relevant on Earth, should you become an astronaut and travel the solar system it will be important. Your weight changes based on gravity and is a measurement of gravity's pull on you. Mass remains constant regardless of what planet you are on as it's essentially a measurement of matter. In a nutshell.

The next step was to find out how hard I can push myself running and at what point would I max out. This was done by wearing a heart rate monitor and a mask around my mouth and nose to measure oxygen output... or something like that. I started on the treadmill for a few minutes of brisk walking at a speed of 4.0 treadmill measurement units (miles per hour, I believe). After the warm up the speed was increased to a light jog at 5.0. Then it was gradually increased until you thought your lungs would explode and legs would crumble. This determines your maximum output and is used in the follow-up sessions as a guideline for determined 50 percent output, 75 percent output, etc.

At this point I must admit I don't know the right words for a lot of things related to this research.

I got strapped in to my gear and hopped on the treadmill. Prior to starting I wondered if anyone had ever vomited Biggest Loser style while wearing the oxygen max thing. It was strapped on super tight and could not be removed in a hurry. I thought about it, because I think of vomit consequences more than the average person, and determined you would just have to bend over and let the vomit run into the tube. But that would never happen, right? Right.

My warm up phase went well. The light jog went well. The running as fast as you can was going well and as it started to feel a bit hard my stomach did a wee 'poof!' I know from playing ultimate frisbee that sometimes I just need a tiny burp in the initial phases of running. I figured I would be fine as it was around noon and I had been fasting as part of the research for about 12 hours. However, the stomach movement seemed to be a bit more than a burp. I jumped onto the sides of the treadmill and waved my arms at the student and pointed at the mouth piece. He popped it off and I told him I thought I was going to vomit... but I would probably be okay.

And then I ran to the waste bin and threw up the 4 tablespoons of food I had left in me. The student seemed a bit flustered as he none of the previous participants chucked up their supper. I tried to explain that I probably throw up more than the average person, and no, I don't usually vomit when I exercise and I wasn't at my maximum output.

I offered to bow out of the research as I understood that I hadn't reached my maximum output thus the follow-up sessions could be off. Well, luckily he needs participants, so he needs me to return. So hurrah for me! Potential research outlier. Hopefully the follow-up sessions will have fewer surprises.

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