Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Routines

Here are some things we all undergo in the usual courses of our days. Strangely, they have begun to seem normal!

Each morning after the 6am wake-up song, I flip on my bedside lights and turn on the news. I'll watch that for "one round" of story segments -- unless I hear the words "gasoline prices," or "Britney Spearsm" whereby I flip to the NASA channel to see what's there.

One nurse goes room to room with a large scale. We roll to one side while they spread a tarpaulin stretcher beside us. We roll back onto it and spread it out the rest of the way. The tarp has four metal rings, which attach to the scale, and they pull a hydraulic lever to lift us clear of the bed's surface. FUN, eh??

NASA bedrest scale
After waiting a moment for it to stop swaying, they touch a button for a digital readout of precise kilograms -- and this number is passed on to to the dieticians so they can calculate our food and water allotments for the day. The goal is to keep us at precisely the same weight, with no gain or loss.

Before 7am, another nurse rolls in a console holding a digital sphygmomanometer and oral thermometer. We each have our own size-specific wrap-around cuff attached to the bed. They take morning vitals, recording blood pressure from the arm and body temperature (in Celsius) from beneath the tongue. They also note the reading off the room thermostat, which is always kept at 70-73 degrees. This process is repeated in the late afternoon.

Breakfast is usually between 7-7:30, and after that, another nurse visits for respiratory and circulatory assessments. They run a stethoscope over our backs, listening for bronchial clarity while we take deep breaths, then on the chest for the heartbeat. They also do quick motor tests where we apply pressure to their hands, and check wrist, foot and sometimes shin pulse -- consistently asking if we have any pain, soreness or tingling in the feet. So far none! This process is repeated in the early evening.

Twice per day, we do 30-minute routines of muscle stretches (neck, back, legs, arms, abs, etc). We are rolled to the shower every other day on a padded gurney, at which time our bed linens are all changed while we're out of our room. We also get a one-hour massage every other day -- always a welcome diversion! We are wheeled around the building or outdoors in the shade twice per week, to get some fresh air... and humidity!

In the coming days, I'll describe some of the actual testing we undergo, so you can get a feel for the study itself... but please bear in mind I am not a doctor or scientist; I can describe what the tests entail in terms of actions and sequence, and my subjective opinion of the bodily effects... but frankly even I don't always know exactly what they're measuring! More to come.


Sound Man "G" said...

It is easier to understand what the description of the test or sequence is in the words of the person going through the study, rather than the technical type words that doctors use that no one understands.

Having looked at the menu selections, it seems pretty much like normal type meals. All of it good eating. Do they allow a substitue, within their specific guidelines, like if there is a particular food you are allergic to?

Also, with the menus, do they vary depending on the individual person based on their carloic need, or is the menu the same for eveyone, just different size portions?

Jason Miller-Kokomo,IN said...

Hi. Hope you well. Just wanted to know if they let your family visit you?

Christy said...

I have been a silent reader of your blog for some time now. I think what you are doing is amazing. My husband is military and we are stationed in Germany. This would totally be something I would do to help out people. I have been fascinated with space, the space program, and astronauts for some time now. I always try to help out others. My husband and I try to do what we can by volunteering in our local community to help others. Keep up the hard work...I know that sounds funny but many people could chose to quit when they start to miss things like cell phones, salt and chocolate.

Thanks for blogging! This is great to read about and you keep it interesting. I check out three blogs every day and yours is one of them. I blog too...but not about cool stuff like you. Take care!

Thursday's Child said...

Sounds like you're just busy, busy. LOL

I was going to make a comment about how I'd be insane by now, which reminds me. Besides the medical testing, do they do any psychological testing as well? I would imagine it would be mentally trying as well as physically. (You may have already addressed that somewhere and I just missed it.)

Cherie said...

What you are doing is so amazing that it blows my mind! I think the hardest thing for me would be not being able to eat what and how much I want. I do have three questions, which I haven't seen addressed anywhere:
1) What happens if you get sick? I don't mean REALLY sick as in life-threatening - but suppose you just get a cold or have some congestion or the sniffles or a sore throat? Having your head below the rest of your body could really be uncomfortable at that point, not to mention the issue of spreading germs. Are you allowed to take medicine?
2) I looked through all the FAQs and all your posts, and I don't see anything that explains how you use the toilet. Are you able to do this by yourself or do you need assistance?
3) This one is the easiest (maybe). As a result of this experience, do you think you'd like to actually go into space one day?
You're doing a great job so far and you're an inspiration to everyone who supports the space program. Good luck!!

supermoose33 said...

My question is related to Sound Man G's question: Does NASA allow vegetarians to be a part of the study?

Teresa said...

I am enjoying reading your posts. This is a whole new world for me and I am glad you are sharing it with us. I studied to be a nurse and medical coder, so I am really interested to know what it will be like when you are allowed to be up and moving around again. My blog is not as interesting as your, but feel free to visit. I am at
Take care

Mrs. L said...

Didn't know about how they checked your weight, very cool. And your readers have such great questions!

Anonymous said...

how much do you get paid per day and do they let your family visit you? do they get you what ever you ask for like certain books, DVDs ect. that would be cool. good luck!!