P A R T   T W O :   G E T   S M A R T P I L L 
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2009     07:40 pm
I’m done for the day… tomorrow is nothing but the SmartPill… thanks to the study (and a trip to Dallas for the 4th of July and a trip to NY for a bar mitzvah), this year has seen me flying more than any other year. I don’t mind airports, but I’ve never been the biggest fan of flying.  I had a stop in New Orleans which baffled both my dad (who has plenty of travel experience) and me since neither of us knew it was a layover for Southwest Airlines.  Dinner tonight was chicken, broccoli, carrots, a glass of punch, and a small bowl of Jell-o… not bad at all, I must say… watching NCIS on the USA channel.

Tierra came by to check my vitals, and found a small red spot on my right leg near my foot, but I told her I never would’ve noticed it if she hadn’t mentioned it… it doesn’t hurt or itch and it’ll most likely be gone in a few days.  

She noticed my schedule board on the wall… every evening, the subject monitors write out the next day’s schedule on a white board which is mounted on the wall. Michelle had drawn a pumpkin and turkey in honor of the holidays… Tierra said she wished she could draw and said that her mother can sit in a room and sketch all day… I told her how I took an art class in 7th grade but I didn’t like it and that I took another art class at PBCC (I dropped it after three days).  When I lived in LA, the mall near our neighborhood had a small art school occupying one of the stores and I wish I had taken a class or two. I guess you can say learning how to draw/paint/etc. is on my bucket list.

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SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2009     09:33 pm
We’re required to drink a few small pitchers of water each day.  I believe the number of grams equals my weight in kilos multiplied by 28.5 (don’t ask)… that’s over two thousand grams of water!  That equals about eighty-something ounces… but you know what?  ... if you neglect it during the day, then you have to hurry up and finish before 10:00… right now, I have to Styrofoam cups filled to the brim that I have to finish in 26 minutes.
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SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2009     09:53 pm
…and finished!
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SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2009     07:11 pm
Camille (a.k.a. the SmartPill woman) came to see me, and we had a nice chat for about 30 minutes. I told her about LA, working as an extra, and improv.  I ate breakfast, which consisted of pancakes (I had to drink the excess syrup), a bowl of yogurt, and a bowl of fruit… then the SmartPill, (it’s about the size of two green grapes) which I was able to swallow in one shot but I could feel it on its way down.  

I now have a small receiver (think tricorder) dangling from around my neck and it even has a label that reads: “U.S. Govt. Prop.”  There is a small 2-line LCD readout and an “Event” button which I have to push after a meal, when I go to bed, when I wake up, and after a BM (that’s how they refer to bowel movements… charming).  It measures pressure and pH on its way down… and that’s it for today!  I can’t shower today because of the pill (I need to wear the receiver) nor can I exercise or anything like that… so I’m on easy street till lunch, then dinner, and that’s it for Sunday…

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SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2009     11:25 am
While I have the SmartPill inside me, the nurses will be collecting stool. I didn’t have to use a bedpan, but I did have to use something they call a “hat”… it’s just a plastic bowl-like device that attaches to the inside of the toilet.  So for the next 24 hours, that’s what I’ll be using and they’ll be, uh, going through it until they find the pill… I know that’s what these folks are trained for, but I still feel bad and somewhat embarrassed for exposing them to this stuff… but hey, that’s what they get paid for, just like this is what I get paid for…

Beth came in to check my pulse, breathing, etc…. she also looked at my feet and mentioned that I have good blood circulation.  “How can you tell?” I asked.  She said because of the hair growing on part of my feet and toes. I asked about the fact that I can’t seem to grow a beard, but we both chalked that one up to genetics… stupid genes…

Inspector Gadget is on Hulu? Cool! Only the first 22 episodes (out of 60-something) are available for viewing… it even has the first episode where Gadget has a mustache… can you tell I’m bored today?

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SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2009     08:05 pm
Lunch consisted of spaghetti and, not meatballs, but some other thing, chicken I think… a slice of cheesecake, garlic bread (yay!), and a glass of white milk.  Historically, Italian food and milk have never mixed well for me.  I recall eating pizza when I was younger, then following it up with cookies and chocolate milk which resulted in me vomiting the next day. I hope this bit of history doesn’t repeat itself… when I first learned of the different meals, the idea of spaghetti and milk didn’t appeal to me.  My mom speculated it was because, traditionally, Jews don’t combine meat and dairy… however, we’re not really observant of Jewish dietary laws, but it’s possible this trait has been passed down through the generations until it was simply common knowledge… let’s see, the SmartPill is, well, it’s somewhere inside me, just hanging out… Veronica (one of the nurses) just checked my vitals and apparently I have very good blood pressure… I also called home and asked mom to TiVo Curb and Bored to Death for me… Curb is pretty good this season and Bored is fun, though it has this weird “too hip for the room” vibe happening and I can understand why some people might not like it…

One of the test subjects, Todd, came by and introduced himself.  He has a PhD in psychology, which would make him just a bit more employable than, say, me.  He was a nice guy though I felt a bit intimidated… maybe it’s the occasional awkward pause, maybe it’s that I had nowhere to put my hands other than my pockets (and with this receiver dangling from my neck, I couldn’t cross my arms).  He also did The Lunar Study just this past May: a 21-day study with six days of bedrest with head tilted up, instead of down. 

Dinner consisted of chicken, fries, broccoli, apple sauce, a couple of (Oreo-esque) Famous Amos sandwich cookies, and a glass of grape juice.  They’ve also had me take vitamin D supplements during dinner due to my blood test results from Quest back home.  I can feel the SmartPill, at least that’s what I think it is… it’s almost 5:00 and maybe tonight I’ll get an uninterrupted sleep… Beth has been doing a great job making sure my water pitcher is full so I don’t feel compelled to rush the last half-hour before going to bed.

I’m finished with my water for the day, and hopefully I’ll sleep a full night without having to use the bathroom.  I watched the latest episode of Have I Got News For You… BBC America doesn’t air it and the BBC online player is disabled for US viewers… thankfully, someone uploads them onto YouTube within a few days… right now, I have Family Guy on the TV and it’s still not that funny anymore.

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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2009     09:18 am
We wake up to music, just like the astronauts.  The last few days, the music has been more or less recognizable but I have no idea what kind of elevator music they played for us today.  Breakfast was waffles, sausage, scrambled eggs (meh), a bowl of grapes and strawberries, a glass of OJ, and a glass of milk… after a meal, shower, or BM, I am supposed to hit the “Event” button on my receiver and almost every time, I would’ve forgotten if one of the monitors hadn’t reminded me.

The pill is out!... I didn’t feel a thing… I figured it would take at least 48 hours.  Of course, I’m no anatomy expert (even when it comes to my own) and that was just a guess.  In my senior year of high school, we had to pick a science class. I chose environmental science but I lacked the requisite credits… I had zero interest in anatomy & physiology or physics, so I chose marine biology which is still one of the easiest classes I have ever taken… hell, every Monday we would get a coloring book page of an underwater tableau and we’d have to color it… with crayons… in senior year of high school.

I just shaved… once the bedrest starts, I won’t be shaving at all.  My grandpa said I should try to grow a beard… shows what he knows!... I told him, “If I could, I’d probably have one right now!”

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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2009     03:50 pm
I’m not sure what I had for lunch today… greens, carrots, a couple of cookies, a glass of lemonade, and a main course which consisted of meat and noodles stuffed in a bread pocket.  Of course, a perfectly normal and/or well-rounded person could tell what it was… that’s what I get for eating the same dozen or so meals for all my 26 years.  

I tuned into Hulu and watched Seth & Alex’s Almost Live Comedy Show… it wasn’t that funny but it was nice seeing Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein doing their character voices live.  Slso tuned into YouTube and watched some more vintage Have I Got News For You and one nice user uploaded a handful of Marx Brothers films, divided into 10 parts each…

I sat out in the common area and chatted briefly with Brian and Thomas… then a woman named Liz came by to take me to another room for my “T-reflex test” to test the reflexes in my Achilles tendon.  They strapped me face down on a table and locked my left foot into a device.  I basically had to lay there for twenty minutes as this device gently hammered my left foot (like when a doctor checks your reflexes)… I had electrodes applied to my left leg (which necessitated a slight shave of my leg hair – my precious leg hair!).  Liz and Jodi (the woman monitoring the computer) were very nice and we had the usual small talk, etc…. apparently my reflexes are excellent and I told them, “At this point, anything I can use to hit on a girl at a bar I'll take!”  To my left, there was a nice poster of the International Space Station orbiting Earth and I could swear the landmass visible below was Florida but I can’t be sure.

One of the nurses (Nikki) checked my vitals and Michelle showed up with some new DVDs including Whatever Works, Woody Allen’s latest film.  I'm a fan of both Woody Allen and Larry David (who plays the lead character in a perfect storm of neurosis) but let me tell ya, I just finished it, and it might be one of the most hateful, pessimistic, cynical movies I’ve ever seen (and I loved Woody’s Deconstructing Harry)… only two things saved the film: Evan Rachel Wood (looking as luminous as ever) and the music (standard Woody jazz and classical, including Beethoven and Mendelssohn).

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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2009     08:33 pm
A nurse named Bonnie came by to pick up my urine… she said I looked familiar and asked if I was from Houston. I had to say no, but something tells me she might’ve seen me as an extra on TV… anything’s possible. I got the most face time on some stupid Hallmark TV movie, so who knows?

Dinner left much to be desired… tacos, with cheese and all the trimmings. I have nothing against the basic concept but still… cheese… NCIS is still on TV (as it should be).  I’ve only been the movie theater twice this whole year (Star Trek and The Hangover) so being here has given me an opportunity to catch up on some recent flicks… but between, Bloom, Pelham, and today’s Woody Allen, I feel like I saved myself thirty bucks.

I'm watching Duplicity with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen… it’s okay, though the romantic subplot is less interesting than all the corporate espionage stuff.  A nurse named Dana came in to take my water pitcher (I exceeded my daily requirement) and check my breathing… all good…

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