yesterday I experienced something that I have never experienced before...
I was a human lab rat.
Back in the fall I had heard about this masters student who was looking for human lab rats to experiment on. He is a student who is working under Dr. Gordon Geisbrecht (A.k.a. "professor popsicle"). Professor popsicle has his own lab in the Max Bell Center at the U of M, and this is where I went yesterday to enter death for 5 hours...this is how the story goes.
I showed up at the U of M at around 11:50am. I am a punctual kind of person, and like to not be rushed when I go to anything. As I walked into Room 211 at the Max Bell Center, I was wishing I wasn't so punctual.
I walked in to another guy in the process of freezing in the... cold tank. I looked at him and could feel the cold! His face was nearly white, and he was shivering uncontrollably, hardly able to speak. As I saw this situation taking place, I realized I was going to be that guy in about 30 minutes, and started to weigh the options...I figured I was a fast runner still and could probably jet out the door and run out of the Max Bell Center and into my car in 5 minutes flat, drive home and never go near that place again... Or I could be a man, stick it out, and make the $100.
I chose the latter. oops.
The assistant lady gave me a stack of papers, told me to read them and sign them. These things always make me nervous... "Why is there so much information I need to know before doing this" I thought. After reading the papers, I have to say running away was sounding very good.
But I am a man right... (insert manly grunt here) so I signed the papers, and got changed into my swim trunks.
The first thing they did was hook me up to what seemed like hundreds of electro-lites (not sure how to spell those) which give you shocks, and make your muscles contract. I'm a hairy bugger so I knew when he was putting these things on my chest, and near my armpits, I was in for some serious pain when the tape came off. As the guy leading the expiriment finished putting the wires on me, I heard the assistant lady say "I'm just gonna stick this tube down your throat." (that was my interpretation). "what?!" I said in a disbelief kind of way. She went on to explain that this was the most important part of equipment on me because it monitored my core body temperature...and seeing how the expiriment was supposed to drop my body temperature by 3C, I figured I needed it. But this tube thing, I don't wish it on anyone... It's one of those ones that goes in up your nose and goes down your asophogus (sp?) and just sits there. That's right just dangles in your body! She grabbed the tube, warmed the end and said "on the count of three I'm gonna stick this up your nose, and you're gonna swallow" (again, what I heard, it was more scientific sounding). 1, 2,...holy #*@! what just happened! Folks, I now know what cruel and unusual punishment is.
This frikin' tube was absolutely irritating me the whole time. I just couldn't get used to it, even though they kept saying I would forget it was there.
*Just a funny little side thing that happened here at this point...* At about this time, the leader of this expiriment was asking me some questions, just getting some small talk out of the way. And he asked me what I did. This question is always funny for me because I figure nobody EVER guesses that I am a pastor. So as I told him, "Actually, I'm a worship pastor at a church" his response was priceless..."Get the f*ck outta here!" (in a surprised, not mad way) "Oh sh*t, sorry... I mean, sorry." So, clearly, my assumption that no one ever would think I work at a church is right. but, Oh, how I love these moments.
Anyway, after they had me all hooked up, and had me now walking like C-3PO, I was ready to do preliminary biscept testing... The only uncomfortable part of this is the electro-lites. They have to find out the maximum shock they can give you in order to really get your muscles to contract. Again, cruel and unusual punishment. I don't like hearing, "alright, we're gonna raise this up to 250 (giga-whatevers) in shock now" after you had felt like your biscept was going to explode out of your skin after the last one!
After all the preliminary testing, it was now time to die...
Yes, this is the part where I was strapped into a harness, lifted above the floor, and slowly dropped into a tank about the size of a bathtub (but much deeper) with water that was cold enough to drop my body temperature 3C, making it 34C...Actually that sentence isn't entirely true...the water wasn't totally freezing yet. they have some sort of grace and start you out in water that is about 20C, which if you have ever been in water that temperature, it's still dang cold! But I was in there and thinking I was tough, thinking "man, this is all you got, I could sit in here, get used to this water, and have a good ole' time." About that time I had that thought, death came riding on the shoulders of the Masters student in the form of 6 monster bags of ICE. Yeah, he plunked them on the ground, and proceeded to dump ALL 6 bags into my little coffin of water.
At this point I was thinking I should've taken that extra shift at Starbucks.
The bags of ice wasn't the end though...oh far from it! Next came the tub jets...You know how nice it is when you're sitting in a HOT tub, and you have the soothing consistency of jets behind your back...well I had a variation of that. I had jets blowing on both sides of my body, but these had none other but freezing cold water coming out of them.
Lord save me.
The next part of this story is called "Shivering." No I'm not talking about the little shiver you get when you see something that is deeply moving, or the type you get when there is a slight chill in the air...I'm talking about all out uncontrollable shaking! I was a disaster...It's like you want to control your body, but it controls you! You can't stop the shaking because your body is doing it to keep you warm, and your body does not find it normal to be in, get this now, 7C water! That's right, the water had plummeted to 7C. to the lay person, that is TOO dang close to pure ice.
So here I am, I had been sitting in this tank for 20 minutes, shaking to keep myself alive, and then I have this awful realization...
"I have to take a leak" I thought. I mean, I really had to take a leak...
As best I could I called the expiriment guy over and told him my plight. I asked him if I would have time to go to the can after I got out of the cold tank before we did the muscle testing...he said no, because it would skew the results as my body would have a chance to warm up. Then he said some of the most horrifying words I had heard in a long time..."You know, this might sound really wierd, but... you're just gonna have to go in the tank."
Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabacthani.
I was mortified! Here I am freezing my ace off, with a tube dangling in my asophogus, freezing, with wires strapped to me, did I mention freezing, having to take a leak...but having to just let nature take its course in my swim trunks!
Again I was at a crossroads. I could either set the world record for holding it when you feel like your gonna explode you have to go so bad, or I could sit in this cold tank and take a wizzle in my shorts...
Again... I chose the latter.
Oh how good it felt though.
The guy came back, looked at a guage and said, "you raised the damn temperature of the water!" and threw in 3 more bags of ice.
I thought I was a good person?!
This next part of the story is called "I think the Lord is calling me home now." After the slight distraction that was me taking a pee pee in the cold tank, I realized I was still in 7C water...When you're in the tank, you hold onto this board, it's called the "Gord Board" named after Professor Popsicle (Gordon Giesbrecht). I was now holding on for dear life, because I felt that if I let go, I would go home to be with my Lord and Saviour. Unforunately for me at that point in time, it was not my time to go...It was still my time to freeze my can off.
I sat in that tank of 7C water for 1 hour people...1 hour! Yeah, I'm not sure how that worked out either, but I'm here writing this now so I must be semi-o.k.
I was lifted out of that tank, and I looked about as red and pink as I think a human body could ever get... Oh the burn!
After I regained normal consciousness again, they make you go through tests of muscular strength that make you feel like a wimpy little girl because you can barely flex your muscles.
This next part of the story is a happy part. It's where you get to sit in HOT water until you get your body temperature back to 37C. Oh how sweet that was...
Finally, after a grueling 4.5 hours, it was over...almost.
The last part was to take off all the wires and equipment hooked up to you by tape.
Remember before how I said I was a hairy bugger...yeah, that's where this comes into play.
This part of the story is called "free wax job." enough said.
The last part of the story is called "taking out that dreaded tube in my body." Remember how I had said I was feeling discomfort with it the whole time, and just couldn't stop thinking about it...well, when he counted to three and I breathed in, and he pulled the tube up out of my asophogus, through my nose and out, I saw why it was uncomfortable. The freaking thing was bent in half! So everytime I would swallow, my throat muscles had that much more to get caught on, and I was basically fighting not eating the stupid tube the whole time!
Now if by chance you are reading this, and by chance you made it this far, you may be wondering a simple question, why? Why did I do this? well the answer is simple, I am part of an event in May that forces us to do some fundraising...
yeah, I dislike fundraising that much. that is why.
All in all, it was really quite a miserable experience, but dang it, I got a seriously good story out of it...and you know what, that's worthy taking a pee pee in the cold tank.