The last experiment
Goodbyes are hard, even if you don’t really know someone outside of work. Today we’re saying goodbye to a few of our participants as they finish one of our longer experiments. It feels like only yesterday, but it’s been several months now so it’s time to wrap things up. The good news is this will create a bit of an opening in my routine, but that’s probably going to be filled in pretty quickly.
The protocol for this particular experiment is pretty rigorous and I’m happy to say that out of everyone who agreed to do it, we haven’t had anyone drop out or miss a day. Considering they are coming to the lab multiple times a week and some drive as far as an hour or more to get here, it’s amazing. We’ve had people “graduate” from our experiment before, but this is the last group of people before we change things around so it’s a bit special this time.
We’ve celebrated birthdays with these people, holidays, and you really get to know the people who come in. I love clinical research for that reason, you’re helping people now, not later, not in the distant future possibly, right now. It’s very rewarding and I hope to be able to continue this line of work once I have my PhD, which feels like a distant dream right now, but hopefully I’m closer to the end than the beginning.
As I was saying, you really get to know the people who are there purely to help others. While some of the research we do helps the people in our studies, especially longitudinal studies like this, the benefit isn’t always clear to the person. I’m grateful that people want to volunteer to help others. The bar for something like this study was so high because of the time and effort required, I am always impressed when we actually have people wanting to do it.
Most of our studies are one and done type things. We can have a single person volunteer for multiple studies, I myself have been a volunteer for a dozen or so, but the time commitment is minimal. When we’re seeing a person so regularly you really get a sense for who they are and they get a sense of who we are. That last bit is important because we want them to know that we really are working to help others.
I still remember when my bosses, bosses, bosses, bosses, …, boss (seriously), someone whom I should’ve never been in the same room with, much less spoke to came to see what our lab was doing. When they asked one of the people from this study what they thought of us, we had such a kind review you would think we paid them to say the stuff they did. They told the person that we were changing their lives and the lives of others. To this day it brings tears to my eyes and I love telling the story because it was so sincere. In fact, I’m pretty sure I already told this story once here, but I’m not about to go digging for it.
After the experiment today I did my customary thing, where I ask how they liked the study, if they would come back, etc. The participant loved what we were doing and was enthusiastic to come back. They said whatever we needed, they would come. That’s the kind of research I do here and it’s the reason I love working in the hospital.
I’m not a people person. If anything I’m super awkward to be around, I don’t usually go to parties (even pre-pandemic) and when I did go I would always feel out of place. I think most of it is because I don’t have a high regard for people generally speaking because people, in the general sense, are selfish. I once saw an old man trip and fall in the street. Everyone just walked around him. Literally dozens of people just pretended the person didn’t exist. I stopped and helped him up of course, but it really drove that point home.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s nice to see the other side of that. The people who participate in our experiments are people who want to help. People who want to make a difference, even if there’s nothing in it for them. It’s my regular change to interact with really good people and it keeps me going most of the time.
Funny enough I feel the same way about all of you random internet people out there reading this. Nothings in it for you, but you seem to come back here and care about how my progress is going or how I’m doing. I’m a proud person, so I don’t like to admit I was wrong, but there are a lot more good people out in the world than I once believed.
So this is a semi-regular thank you, yes you, even if this is your first time here, for visiting. Thank you for giving me a small shot of hope, we may not really know each other, but it makes my life slightly better.