Friday, 6 July 2012

Human Guinea Pig: Part 1 - The Research Facility

 I turned up at the hospital at 2pm on Tuesday and met up with the endocrinologist who's been in charge of arranging the series of tests which I was due to undergo  (she needs a top secret blogging name; we'll call her Dr Olive). We went to the research department where the tests would be carried out, and I was delighted to be introduced to my private room - complete with en-suite bathroom and free TV (and sharps bin, and cardiac arrest instructions).

My charming room
I think I've mentioned this before, but just in case - the tests which I had done over the past few days were done partly as general research into my condition and partly as a guide on what kind of treatment I should be given next. Firstly, a nurse was called in to do my initial tests; height (5'7"), weight (57.9 kgs), blood pressure (105 over 77), blood oxygen (97%) and resting heartrate (116 beats per minute - normal rate is 70-100 bpm). She had obviously not been informed about my tachycardia, because when she saw how fast my heart was going she looked at me askance and said "Did you come here running?" I assured her I had not, and that 116 bpm was perfectly normal for me. Later when Dr Olive looked at the results I think she was quite surprised; I had explained to her that I had tachycardia but she was surprised that my resting heartrate could be so high; of course, at that point when she took my pulse it was a perfectly standard 79 bpm.

I also had my breathing rate observed which was deeply disconcerting, as it essentially involves a nurse staring at your boobs for a solid minute while you attempt to "breathe normally". It is strangely difficult to breathe normally when you know someone is counting every inhalation.

Next came my ECG (electrocardiogram, a.k.a. EKG), where they put a bunch of incredibly sticky pads on your wrists, ankles, and across your chest around the heart. Then they attach a bunch of wires to the pads, which feed into a machine, which then prints out a trace of your heartbeat. It doesn't take very long but it is a bit of a hassle - the worst part is peeling the sticky pads off afterwards, although as the very nice nurse - let's call her Carla - pointed out afterwards, it's definitely a lot worse for blokes with hairy chests!

After that, I had to give my consent to the various tests that they wanted to do, and answer a few questions about my medication, my pituitary adenoma and any other medical conditions. It wasn't particularly exciting, although when Carla asked me if I ever suffered from any kind of recurrent pain, I said no. It was only after she'd asked me two further questions about pain that I finally remembered the fact that I have hypermobility syndrome and consequently have fairly regular bouts of joint pain, and have done since I was a child. I apologised for apparently being a massive idiot and she laughed and said people often forget these things when it becomes normal for them.

Some people with hypermobility/Ehlers Dahnlos Syndrome are incredibly flexible - later, Dr Olive came to ask me another set of questions, and when I mentioned the hypermobility again I think she was faintly disappointed at my lack of hilariously bendy joints. My little fingers do bend backwards alarmingly, but the joints that are most affected are in my legs and feet so they're not very impressive - and at the moment I can't even get vaguely close to touching my toes thanks to damaging a muscle in my left leg dancing.

Once I had been thoroughly questioned, I was left alone to contemplate my crimes - or at least, someone else's crimes, thanks to Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes and my Kobo e-reader, a birthday present from my parents and an excellent device for anyone planning to spend time in hospital.

Not quite an ocean view...

You can read the next post about my time in the hospital, and my DEXA body density scan, by clicking here.


  1. And all I did this week was an MRI....

    I'm sure I'm not your only reader trying to work out where you are from that view.

    1. Haha, the view's about as genero-hospital as it gets, I fear!

  2. is that Cambridge??