Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Paranoia

Posted: March 14, 2007 in Research

I turned into the parking lot of my apartment thinking and rethinking if today’s lab-work went well. Eight full hours of hard and knocking gradients had already numbed my brain. I tried hard to recollect every minute detail of my experiment. I took the sample of fixed tissue out of the container. (The sight never ceases to awe me and disgust me at the same time .) I held the whole brain under water and gave it a thorough wash, feeling each sulcus and gyrus as I started from the frontal pole to the occipital lobe. I had realized that I had cuts on my fingers. I had covered each one of the cuts; big or small using all the bandages, knuckle bandages, butterfly clasps and tapes I could find before I wore my gloves. Six of my ten fingers had pale coffee colored bands on them. All the protective gear had been in place.

It was well past midnight and I was ready to go to bed. I lay in my bed, awake. Something was bothering me. I could not figure out what it was. ‘Maybe I did not lock the door to my apartment.‘ I got up to check. As I went past the shoe rack, my eyes fell on the shoes I had worn today and instantly I smelt animal odor. My nasal cavity seemed full with the scent; very pungent and very disturbing, just like you feel chlorine when you accidentally inhale water while swimming. I immediately squatted on the floor to examine my shoes. The shoe-cover had slipped once… just once. I looked to see if I could find anything on the sole. Nothing. I had touched the shoe with bare hands. I ran to the sink, my heart pounding. I washed my hands with Purell- twice. For a moment, I wished those hands that touched the shoes were not mine.

After what seemed like an eternity, I went back to the shoe rack. I tried to sense the odor again. There was none.

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Monkey Business

Posted: July 15, 2006 in Research

The asphalt radiated heat as I walked down the dusty road to my office on what seemed one of the cooler Georgian summer days. I was dripping with sweat. I could not wait to get to my cool air-conditioned cubicle. This was going to be one of my hardest days. For the first time ever, I was going to scan four anaesthetised monkeys. The vet and the technicians were all ready to start while I changed into the most uncomfortable dress with an equally discomforting name: Personal Protective Equipment – PPE for short. The gloves make my hands sweat in the coolest of places and the procedure mask causes my protection screen to cloud each time I speak. I remembered the day I was asked how I felt about working with monkeys. ‘That will not be a problem. Research has to be done and if monkeys are needed, they should be used’ – I had firmly replied to the lady in the HR office. Now I was hoping she does not see me today. My hands shook as I adjusted the rectal thermometer and then positioned the oxygen tube. I tried to immobilise the poor animal with the ear bars. The vet snatched the bars from me and pushed them right into the monkey’s ear. ‘Do not worry, you will not hurt him. Just push them fully in and tighten’, he said and smiled. Gently, I pushed the patient table into the scanner and got ready for a peek into the sedated brain. Within an hour, we were done with the ten year old rhesus. What I did in that hour, I do not remember. It was time for the second one. This setup was no better than the first one. After almost eight faint hours, I heaved a sigh of relief as we packed up for the day. Even after handling 14 monkeys now and with many more to go, I find it difficult to make this duty, ‘just another task’ on my to-do list.