We're a little crazy, about science!

An interesting experiment, maybe

I was debating about sharing this since I’m not sure if it will happen or not. More importantly, like all the experiments and stuff I do around here (or at least it feels that way) I can’t talk about it in detail. Instead I can talk about why I’m excited about it in particular and why it may not even happen. Which, considering I’m still trying to recover from surgery, may not be a bad thing!

Counting surgery as day one, we’re now on day seven of recovery and things are going (mostly) smoothly. I still feel the urge to just sleep all day and night, but I guess that comes with trying to recover from a surgery. Overall though, if I get some relief then it was worth it. But we’re not here to talk about my recovery! No, we’re here to talk about the latest and greatest experiment I’m working on, which has me very excited (okay, less excited since I’m recovering, but still moderately excited).

Now that I have a third PI thrown into the mix I’m going to have to figure out naming conventions, now we have my hospital-PI (formerly known as Co-PI) and my school-PI (formerly main-PI). The problem is the third PI is technically a second hospital-PI, so maybe surgeon-PI would be better? I don’t know!!! The reason I bring this up is because he’s the person we’re collaborating with today!

A neurosurgeon, my new surgeon-PI (not sure I like that name) is the one I wrote a grant with (along with school-PI) and we were just awarded the funding officially for it (here). We meet later this week to get photos and talk to the school and hospital PR people to promote the project. Since he’s from the hospital we have other collaborations with him and my hospital-PI. One of those collaborations is something I’m excited about because it will help my PhD progress, and any PhD progress is good progress!

Today I’ll be attending a surgery. Thankfully it’s not MY surgery (this time). If we’re lucky we’ll get to do some additional experiments while the person is having the procedure done that would help me with my research. Invasive data is always going to be more conclusive data, so I’m hopeful… but there is a catch!

We can’t just experiment on a person all willy nilly. Even though the stuff I want to do with the person is 1) non-invasive and 2) done while the person is under anesthesia, it would be unethical for us to do the experiment without their consent. This is a good thing and I’m very happy that we don’t get to experiment on people while they are under anesthesia. Look up pelvic exams and anesthesia for some of the more unethical (IMO) stuff done to patients while they are under anesthesia. In short, getting consent makes me happy and I wouldn’t want to do this without it.

The problem is that we haven’t been able to get ahold of the person.

This suggests to me that the person does not want to do it, but isn’t comfortable telling us outright that they are not okay with the extra experiments being done. Which I’m totally okay with if that’s the case. I definitely don’t want to experiment with people who aren’t okay with it and more importantly I don’t want anyone to feel pressured into it. Since we haven’t gotten a response, we’re going to verify that they were at least aware that we reached out (a possibility, but I think a slim one). Importantly, I should point out, we won’t be asking them if they are willing to consent, just that they were aware we wanted to do this other experiment. We don’t want the person to feel like they are being coerced.

In the meantime, to ensure that we can do it (assuming it’s the unlikely, but possible they didn’t get our message), we will be prepping our equipment to take into the OR for the procedure. Since I’m still recovering I’ll mostly be doing the organizing and making sure others are setting the equipment up the way it needs to be for when we go in. I’ll also have to do an inventory of our things and some pre-experiment tests.

The new snag in this plan (which I just found out about a few hours ago) is that the equipment will be in use until about an hour before the surgery is scheduled, so we may have to rush to get it ready. Of course, even if the person didn’t get our message and does want to do the experiment, the equipment may not be fully ready to go by then. Thankfully surgery is a tricky thing and while it’s not VA schedule (several hours behind) we may get an extra 10-15 minutes or so if they are running a little late.

Basically there’s a lot going on today and nothing may actually get accomplished. Or it could all work out. There’s really no way of knowing until after the fact. Yep, it’s going to be one of those days.


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