T H E   N A S A   S T U D Y   -   P A R T   F I V E :   L A S T    A M B U L A T O R Y    W E E K E N D 
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2009     11:09 pm
Better night's sleep this time around.  Arby walked in to turn on the other light and, since she was here last night as well, I was stuck wondering what time/day it was.  Turns out yesterday they asked her to work the morning shift, which usually doesn't happen. Theresa said, after looking at me, "Look at it like this: how many times will you have all these women waking you up in the morning?"  She had a point.  I couldn't recognize what song they used this morning to wake us up… the PA system isn't the best in the world so they could play the Star Wars theme and it would sound like elevator music…

The first half of my breakfast consisted of a bowl of fruit (including banana!) and half an English muffin with jelly… good deal.  Tierra asked if I was doing okay and, per usual, I told her "I'm fine."

I almost cracked, but I didn't.  I went in for a series of tests… first was another echocardiogram.  I had to lay down on my left side, while the doctor (Tim) on my right draped his arm over me and jammed a transducer into my chest for fifteen minutes.  It was a little awkward.  After this was over, a nice girl named Tiffany explained the plasma volume test, wherein I would have to breathe pure oxygen through an apparatus (I would have nose plugs on) and she would slowly make adjustments to the mixture over the course of ten minutes or so.  I had my left arm hooked up to an IV and I had to keep the arm perpendicular to my body at a 45 degree angle… for almost an hour!!

Then I had the worst test of all… the Tilt Test.  They strapped my legs to the bed, then tilted it so that I would be almost vertical (80 degrees to be exact).  I had to stay that way for 30 minutes, without moving or talking.  I couldn't sigh or adjust my posture or raise a foot… and I had to keep my arm extended out from my body.  The blood pressure cuff on my right arm was doing its thing every thirty seconds… and a smaller cuff on my left middle finger doing the same thing.  Michael was the name of the gentleman who did the IV… Sondra monitored the blood pressure cuff, and Sydney assisted Mike with my blood draws.  During the tilt, the following thoughts went through my mind…"<swear word!"> ... "I want to go home now!"… "I hate this!"… "I hate everyone!"… "Do I have the right stuff?"… "Does it matter?"… "Yes!"... various selections from the Star Wars and Empire scores… "My arm is killing me!"… "Don't worry, Scott. When you get out, you can take the money and treat yourself to something nice!"… and "<swear word!>" again… 

I looked like the Vitruvian Man (with his right arm at his side… and with clothes on… and with better hair).  But now it's over… my arm is fine and the nurse took (read: ripped when I wasn't expecting it) the bandages off.  I had the second half of my lunch in the common room with Arby -- simply a glass of OJ, some sausage, and the other half of the English muffin.

Michelle had passed around a fun questionnaire about 1980s television shows to help pass the time.  Sadly, most of these shows were on when I was too young… man, where is Sanjurjo when you need him?  He knows about Family Ties and Magnum, P.I. ...and ALF!  One of the questions was "What is Alf's real name?"  Thanks to Sanjurjo, I know the answer is Gordon Shumway… I still smile when I think about it…

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FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2009     09:30 pm
My second T-reflex test… with Liz and another woman named Keena.  This time, I had them take a picture of me during the test.  Once again, we chatted about my improv classes, Los Angeles, etc.  Both seemed very interested in the improv and admitted they could never think on their feet in front of an audience.  I'm no expert myself, of course.  Lunch was spaghetti and meatballs, greens, grape juice, and some Lorna Doones.  Michelle is out in the common area with Brian watching DOA: Dead or Alive… I have my next test in an hour or so… now off to watch The Office on Hulu…

I did my second functional fitness test, this time with Brent: push-ups, modified pull-ups, sit-ups, and the leg-press.  We actually had a great conversation: we talked school, careers, marriage, and just growing the hell up.  Brent is only five years older than I am, so I'm not that far behind him.  At one point, I thought to myself, "Too bad I don't have a figure like this at home to talk to about this stuff," then I realized, "Wait, that would be dad."  Of course, dad has no objectivity.  In any case, Brent said I seem to be on the same wavelength; he also asked me about improv, and how I would classify my sense of humor?  In short, I have no idea… assuming I have that sense, it's not something I stop to analyze… and with improv, half the time when we'd finish a game, I'd ask myself, "Where'd that come from? Who was that up there?"  As for relationships, yeah I'm not going there…

Dinner was chicken, rice, greens, a bowl of Jell-o, and a glass of milk. I played Scrabble with Jerry, Mona, and Kennisha. Kennisha beat us all… it was easier playing with more than two people but it still gets hard when you start running out of letters; it was enjoyable nonetheless.  I also finished my water for the day, which I don't think I've ever done this early.  This means I most likely will not have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.  I called home and spoke to Mom… everything's the same back home.  I told her about the Tilt Test, but I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot of talking about a lot of different things once I get back home.

Playing best out of seven games of Uno with Jerry. Tomorrow's schedule is up, and I have absolutely nothing going on: vitals, hygiene, and meals… and that's it!  In any other situation, this would be the day I go into town, but not this time.  Earlier, I was catching up on my shows and Hulu aired an ad for Southern Comfort featuring David Shire's score from the original (and infinitely better) The Taking of Pelham One Two Three… I should ask Michelle to rent that for me…
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FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2009     12:27 pm
My weight stayed exactly the same!  I don't know how that happens, even though the people here tell me the same thing: "You're young!"  Eric stopped by to ask if the computer was still functioning… it's all good.  Camille stopped by as well, and we had a nice chat… she said that before the SmartPill was developed, they used to administer a much more complicated (and annoying) test which involved a nurse hovering above the subject for six hours collecting saliva samples in 15- and later 30-minute increments. 

I also had an interesting dream: I was watching a British sitcom, yet I have no idea what sitcom it actually was.  Apparently, my brain created an entire BBC sitcom, complete with settings and characters… neat!  I recall a scene featuring two bickering women (but it was not Ab Fab)… if dreams mean something, then I don't even want to know who the women represent…

Breakfast consisted of two small blueberry muffins (Costco-size they weren't), eggs, sausage, and a glass of OJ… let's see... I have to finish Fringe today.

Leticia, one of the subject monitors, stopped by to chat for a bit.  The other subjects are pretty laid-back and right now, three out of four are in bedrest so it's not like I could just go up to them and ask, "Hey, you wanna watch a movie?"  Once I get in bed, I told her it's gonna get pretty quiet around here, at least until they get some new subjects.  Maybe it's a guy thing or maybe it's the environment.  I feel like I should be out there doing something, but what and with who?  

I finally met (drum roll) the resident physician.  Doctor Ware is the one in charge of this shindig… seems like a nice enough guy.  Originally, I thought his last name was Weir, as in Dr. Weir, Sam Neill's whackjob character from Event Horizon.  "Well, that figures," I thought… but no, it's W-A-R-E… and I doubt he'll be folding space anytime soon.

For lunch today: a tortilla, salad, cookies, and grape juice… sometimes I'll eat the cookies first, just because.

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SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2009     09:22 am
Been watching Dream On for the last three+ hours.  I saw Jerry, and decided to challenge him to an Uno game, which he subsequently won.  I then played best out of seven with Rosalyn, one of the monitors.  (I swear, the subject monitors here are like my own family –- I still haven't met everyone!)  I won four games, so I decided to go out on a high note… and retreat back to my room for more TV.  Karina is around here… when I leave, I'm definitely gonna tell her she's cute and that I wish we had met under different circumstances… you know, circumstances that would allow me to sit upright and walk around and all those things normal people can do.  I know nothing about her… for all I know she's married with kids back home.

Dinner was lasagna, one and a half dinner rolls, broccoli, carrots, a wedge of apple pie, and vanilla ice cream.  Even though I was given a list of the meals in advance, I don't look at it.  In the event it's something I don't like, I don't want to have to think about it all day. I called Steve but he and Jen were just about to have dinner so I didn't have long… they're good.

I finished season two of Dream On… it's funny seeing all the early-90s fashions and hairstyles, not to mention the lack of cell phones and the Internet.  I maintain that at least 50% of all Seinfeld episodes would be obsolete today, thanks to modern technology (not to mention the fact that sitcom writers can no longer do the old "switch answering machine tapes" routine). I'll probably Netflix Dream On later to get the unedited episodes.  Right now, I'm listening to a streaming radio station via Windows Media Player… it plays film scores and I'm listening to "Main Title/Ice Planet Hoth" from The Empire Strikes Back… and it sounds like there was some music that was cut out of the film (I do remember one piece ending up in the Shadows of the Empire videogame)

My schedule for tomorrow has been posted… nothing, nothing, nothing.

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SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2009     12:01 pm
It's my last weekend until mid-December in which I can go vertical. I should enjoy it while it lasts.

I think the thing that concerns me the most about the bedrest is simply having to ask for help all the time.  I won't even be able to get my clothes out of the nightstand drawer next to the bed… I'll have to have someone do it for me.  I assume they'll educate me in the finer points of bedpan use… but to ask to have the curtain closed ("Pull the string!") every time I have to urinate… this could get old real quick.  I wonder how the others are dealing with it?

Breakfast was a bowl of fruit, a glass of OJ, and a cheeseburger quiche… remember the grunt Sideshow Bob made whenever he stepped on a rake?... yeah, I made that sound several times over the last twenty minutes or so.

I watched clips from last night's SNL hosted by Mad Men's January Jones.  The word “train wreck” comes to mind.  I think I laughed once… and it was at Kristen Wiig doing her Kathie Lee Gifford impression doing a Steve Urkel impression… other than that, bupkes.  I did however find the new Iranian castmember who played Kim Kardashian during Weekend Update pretty hot.  Her name is Nasim Pedrad and history has shown that, in addition to girls with glasses, I seem to have a thing for girls born in Tehran… I've been urinating a lot again this morning (nice segue!).  I had to go during the night and whenever that happens, I usually overcompensate the next day… I'm already on my second pitcher and it's not even 10:30.

I did my laundry.  I disappear from the camera while I'm at the washer and dryer so they always send a monitor looking for me, wondering where I went.  This time, Cute Nurse with Glasses was already in my room picking up my urine bottle so I simply followed her, since the washer and dryer are conveniently located next to the Golden Room.

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SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2009     05:53 am
Lunch consisted of salad (with croutons!), vegetable soup, and a cheese sandwich.  It's so pathetic… the easiest thing in the world to prepare… total comfort food… and I took twenty minutes to eat it, eyeing it in between bites like it was the fermented milk-based spawn of Satan.  Elva came by to pick up the empty tray and when I told her this, she whispered, "I don't like cheese either."  I whispered back, "We have to stick together!"

Still working my way through Dream On.  I texted mom to remind her to TiVo Curb, but she sent me a text back indicating she already did.  I'm on my third (fourth?) water pitcher… it's pretty quiet around here ("Yeah, too quiet.")

Despite the tests and the hospital food and the plane travel (and the cheese), I almost consider this a vacation.  Back in Boca, I felt as if I had passed my expiration date.  I was suffering from a mild case of cabin fever, and my job was a one-way ticket to Nowhere.  This test will end the year on a high note (or at least a more interesting note).  I'll make a few bucks and, more importantly, I'll have a story to tell.  Now, whenever I'm asked, "Name something interesting that's happened to you lately," I'll have something to talk about… and it's nice knowing that my family is proud of me…

Dinner was chicken with rice and corn, greens, peach cobbler, vanilla ice cream, Lorna Doones, and milk.  Karina gave me my vitamin D tablet. Yeah, I'll definitely have to say something to her, not that it'll matter.  Sometimes I wonder if you took photos of every girl I've ever liked and fed them into a computer, would there be any common characteristics?  Not just glasses (though not all of them wore glasses)… I'm talking about eye and hair color… things like that.  Eh, does it matter? 

Back here on Earth, Elva posted tomorrow's schedule: I have a blood draw at 6:15 in the morning and another test at 10:30.  The latest episode of Have I Got News For You has been uploaded to YouTube… funny stuff…

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Continue on to Scott's Journal : Part Six


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