We're a little crazy, about science!

OR experiments, the aftermath

The good news is we have data! Lots of data, more data than you could shake a stick at, although I don’t know why you would shake a stick at anything… That’s beside the point(ed stick) though! Yesterday was not one, but two OR experiments and I have to say surgeon-PI must be in way better shape than he appears because both hospital-PI and I are exhausted!

I went in prepared for yesterday though, I had that long post on my latest paper pre-written (something I rarely do), I had the equipment mostly setup, and I even had compression socks on. Yeah, I’m theoretically supposed to wear them when I stand for long periods of time, so they come out mostly for surgeries like this since I was born with bad veins (bleh).

I’ve done all day experiments, I’ve been in the neuroimaging room at 5am and left the hospital after 7pm before. I’ve been part of all day experiments with three or even four participants in a day for several days. I’ve gone days in a row without seeing the sun because the primary room we work out of has no windows. I’ve done all these things and I have to say so far the OR is the most exhausting of all those experiences.

Maybe it’s the stress of having to work with the clinical side of the hospital, or maybe it’s because I’m standing the entire time trying to avoid the sterile fields, but wow am I tired today. I feel like I ran a marathon or something. Even hospital-PI was feeling exhausted by the time we went in for the second experiment. Basically I’m just glad we didn’t have three, although I don’t think we could fit three in the normal hours of the hospital because we were there from 6am to 6pm and that was just two experiments.

Today, despite my exhaustion, I promised hospital-PI that I would sort through the massive amounts of data we now have to figure out what’s good, what’s bad, and what can be improved for the next set of experiments. Which, we are doing basically weekly experiments at this point and maybe even more as the year comes to a close.

Now the good news that I can share (since this is all hush, hush!) is that the experiments went well and we got through them all. The bad news is that in both instances something(s) went wrong that may have affected the data we collected. We had trouble performing the experiment with one person and the other the clinical staff (once again) ignored the existence of our wires and decided to go rampaging over (or rather on!) them.

So overall things could’ve gone better, but honestly not by much. The data we recorded looked good for the most part. The issue is you can’t really make sense of it until you sit down and play with it a bit, so we really just look for stuff that’s obviously wrong with the data and if we don’t see anything we call it good. It’s a lot like unwrapping a gift, you don’t know what’s inside, but if it looks weird that will send up a red flag (shameless plug to my stealth wrapping post here). Since the box looks normal enough, we need to open it to see if we got what we really wanted or if we have a mismatched pair of dirty socks isntead.

Ah the life of a researcher. I can’t complain too much, I really love the work I do and the flexibility I’m given to get the work done. The past two days have been very stressful, between sharing my paper and the experiments it was a lot to take in. I feel like there’s a lot changing now and as I gear up to get ready for my PhD dissertation proposal defense, I’m getting ready to start the final chapter in the PhD saga. I’ve been doing my 365 days of academia project for almost three years now, so I’m not sure what will come after I get my PhD, but I’m excited to find out.

For now though, I am going to get a bit of work done, probably take a nap because I’m old, decrepit, and somehow still functioning… barely. ‘Tis the season!


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