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!