Wednesday, July 30, 2008

This *IS* My Happy Face

After the initial fluid shift on the first day of simulation, the spine and brain REACT to the unusual position, and the whole body fights it. During screening and prep, nurses discussed past cases, and of course Devin was a good source of advice on what to expect… but when you put it all together at once, it sounds like those drug commercials on TV: "Side effects may include backache, headache, neck pain, sinus pressure, nasal congestion, dizziness, nausea, abdominal upset, tightness in the chest, heartburn, coughing, tingling feet and sore calves." We *SO* take gravity for granted.

I was lucky to have only a few, namely the BACKACHE. Everyone responds differently, but lower back pain is a constant. It's tempting to stick with shallow breaths, because deep, diaphragmatic breathing HURTS. Curling foetally helps us get to sleep when we need to, and we can have Tylenol at this stage. Rolling from side to side alleviates it for short periods, but the days seemed slooow. My new best friend was my heating pad -- in fact, if anyone had tried to take it from me, they'd have lost a hand. I've heard stories of some extreme cases of past subjects having bad acid reflux or vomiting, so I'm eating slowly and chewing more, since I definitely don't want either of those. With the feet higher than the head, digestion is distinctly altered, so the dieticians drop our caloric intake.

On the heels of all this merriment was continued blood movement, which rather tricks the body into thinking it is dehydrated. Even after blazing through 2 pitchers of water, I still "feel" thirsty... the brain misinterprets all this flap & flutter as water shortage and produces a dull headache. Episodically, it turned into spinning sensation, where I just had to close my eyes and hope the room slowed down around me! I tried to describe it as: "like vertigo when you're standing up," to which Captain Sarcasmo quipped, "Hmm, so basically you're having horizontago." Isn't he helpful. ;)

For the past week I have not posted, or found another topic other than what I was intermittently experiencing, because all the symptoms do a darned good job of making you cranky. There were times when I was just dead still; the only thing keeping me from crawling out of bed and grabbing for my suitcase was repeating to myself, "All in the name of science, all in the name of science..."

There's no nice way to say: it blows to be in pain, even if you know it's predictable and temporary. Here's the part where I assure you, I’m not lounging about on easy street. If you’re reading this and thinking of applying, the perks rock and there are fun times – but THIS AIN’T FOR SISSIES.

On the upside, the staff is swift and attentive, right down to holding your hand through the worst of it. The nurses and monitors do all they can to bring you things, make you comfortable, assure you that everyone has their own subset of reactions and that it will definitely pass as the body adjusts. Fingers crossed for a fast adaptation!

32 comments:

NotSoccer Mom said...

so i wonder if you'll be taller when you're done??? wouldn't that be fun!

Leigh said...

After all of this, I think they should automatically qualify you to actually GO up in space! Good luck with the experiment. :)

barbie2be said...

i love colbert. and garrett seems like a pretty cool guy too.

Sarah Jones said...

Hi! Just got to your site from FoxNews.com... Very interesting! Best of luck to you! If you ever need something fun to read, head over to my family's blog.

Good luck again!!

not2bright said...

I can't imagine lying in bed for 90 days! I get a back ache and head ache after 8 hours!

This is fascinating! I will try to read all your posts.

Check out our not2bright blog -if you have time -lol!

Best! Judi D

Cedar Waxwing said...

Wow! Thank you for your committment to helping our space program.

This research might seem strange to 95% of the public..but what you're doing is going to help make it possible for people to go to Moon, Mars and beyond.

Keep up the great work! Well done, Heather!

Anonymous said...

I assume you were in exceptionally good health before the experiment started, because the astronauts who will be experiencing similar conditions aren't just picked off the street.

I admire your determination. $17,000 must not be a bad motivation either!

I wish you the best of luck and success with the trial.

Thursday's Child said...

I just saw the link to your blog on Fox News. I always thought the dream job would be to stay in bed with my computer and movies. Well, maybe I'll just read about it instead. I have enough trouble with my back to make me rethink it. Although, someone else would have to chase my twins...maybe I should rethink my rethink.

Dave said...

wooow you go girl!! Thanks for your commitment to the space program! I sure hope you have that bell to ring a lot! Geez you will have to tell us if you are reading any good books over this time period. What does the man in your life say about this adventure??

Sarah said...

Thanks for blogging about your experience. Very interesting!

WendyH said...

Hi! Just saw this link to your blog on Fox News' site. At first I was so jealous of you! I'm the mother of 3 boys; 7 1/2, 3 1/2, and 11 months. Now you know why 3 months in bed with people waiting on me sounded so good at first...

I'm not so sure now.

I've glanced at your blog and hope to spend more time on it later. After 2 swimming lessons, lunches, baths, play time, laundry, cleaning, cooking, dealing with a teething baby who has double ear infections, paying the bills after I figure out why I can't connect to my bank, mowing the grass, thatching the roof...well you get the point.

Megan said...

Found your blog from Fox News' website. What an interesting thing you're doing! I definitely couldn't, but it's so cool that you are. Good luck with everything!

Arellanova said...

Again with the Fox News link, but wanted to encourage you to stick with it. A couple of people in my office giggles when I asked them if they would voulenteer for this, but it is not cake walk, I realize as I read this. Thanks for doing this blog to educate and inspire others!

Elizabeth Camp said...

I'm over in Rebecca Sealy. I'm an attorney for UTMB--and an extreme space fan. Thanks for the blogging!

Joseph Pierce said...

I hope NASA will consider giving you an award/civilian ribbon much like the military ribbon when you complete your task. I would think most Americans will appreciate your committment and I surely do. Best Wishes and God Bless! Consider joining myspace under JosephPierce! ly&mi, Joseph

SB-Gal said...

Seems like you could use some serious comments on your blog just to occupy your time. You're will power is amazing!!! I'll be watching and sending you good vibes.

Take Care!!!

EXMARC said...

good luck

Kira =] said...

Sounds like Fox News gave you a lot more to do now that more ppl are going to be reading your blog (and commenting hopefully). I hope it all goes well for you and that your "side effects" don't last long and aren't too much for you to handle. Good Luck! =]

Derek Hickman said...

It has been really cool to see your story and read your blog. Thanks for the great research! I know you probably feel a little like you're in a glass cage with everyone staring at you. Keep your chin up (or in this case, your toes!)

Peace.

Sherrie Paddy said...

Sounds like you have tremendous strength and determination when you put your mind to something! I admire that!

Please tell us more about what they feed you and for heaven's sake - how do you go to the bathroom at such an angle? LOL

Shane said...

Wanted to say good luck. Saw the link on Fox News online.

Wow, I couldn't do it.

Rob V. said...

I also was directed to your blog from FoxNews.com. (You may have to send a thank-you to them, 'cause you'll be getting a lot of traffic for a few days!)

Such an endeavor you are undertaking! We (the average joe) really take NASA's knowledge of space travel for granted. It's because of brave and tenacious people like you who are willing to be subjects of tests like this that we even got started in space; it's how we keep improving space travel and keep our astronauts safe. Stay strong, you are contributing to a great goal!

God bless.

james.jackson said...

I just read the entire blog from top to bottom and must say this is by far the most interesting blog I've ever read. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us!

Anonymous said...

You're on slashdot! I hope you think that's as cool as I think it is :) have a good one!

Drew said...

I just am thankful that Colbert has the secret self destruct codes, someone we can trust!

I think you should get a large shipment of fortune cookies that you could add "in bed" to, since that would finally be relevant to someone.

good luck!

ActingUpAgain said...

When I first read about this, I was bummed that I wouldn't be a good candidate. Health reasons, plus completely altering my happy, comfortable life in Louisville. So I'm thrilled to get to read-along with your trials.

If you ever need newer, different websites to surf, drop me a line and I'll send you a few recommendations. I know a few online communities that are good for making some online chat buddies.

Scott Watt said...

Good luck with everything. I love Colbert!

whathefuckblog said...

Wow..just WOW.

I really do commend you for what you are doing.

gonna work on a blog about the simulation study too!

Pugh Family said...

I've also got to know how you go to the bathroom. And whats going to happen with your "cycle"?

Do you ever get to lay on your belly instead of your back?

marci said...

This is really interesting! Thanks for blogging about it.

As a warning, my blog has lots on recipes and food pictures on it, so you might not want to visit until the study is over or you're not having a bunch of cravings...

ZwedishPzycho said...

Great blog!

I read about the study when they first mentioned it on Slashdot a while back, so I was really excited to see what it actually was. Thank you for letting us in on the study :)

Good luck.

David Anderson said...

Ah, Gravity, thou art a heartless bitch :-)

Fascinating read, I had no idea that NASA was doing these kinds of studies. It's fun to have an insider view on what happens.

From Switzerland, good luck, and keep up the blogging!