Friday, August 29, 2008

Bag of Bones

Sarcasmo here. On day 64 of my NASA adventure, I did something I haven’t done in a long time... got up and sat in a chair! It was time for my mid-way bone density scans:

DEXA = Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry

pQCT = Peripheral Quantitative Computed Tomography

This is part of ongoing data collection. We underwent these tests upon entrance to the program, and they are repeated around the 60-day mark. The reason that milestone is important is because in the original study, the entire tilt duration was 60 days, and they add our data to that original database of previous subjects.

I missed it by a day, since there has been a lot of activity lately, being that we had more new recruits, Tim got out of his contraption recently, and Heather also had all her 30-day tests.

I know you’re saying, “Oh whoop de doo, he sat in a chair.” Well, after being tilted downward for 2 months, a few things CHANGE in your body. First off, the word "Tenderfoot" comes to mind. The moment my feet touched the floor, I felt hot pins-and-needles sensations. The next major development I can only describe as an elephant sitting on my chest – mostly from the changing of fluid from the upper body back to the legs and feet.

After lying at a head-down tilt that long in spaceflight simulation, transferring over to a wheelchair felt so "abnormal" -- as if I was always leaning forward too far, even though I knew I was sitting totally upright. When I got out of the wheelchair and lay on the flat surface of the DEXA scanner, it felt like I was not flat at all… almost as if my feet were in the air!

On the way to the DEXA SCAN

The tests took about 2 hours. The longer I was upright, some of the odd sensations receded and some new ones appeared. The weight on the chest dwindled quickly, but the tingling in the feet did not. I felt aches and pains, and weakness in my muscles. After all was said and done, they returned me to the tilted bed, and I instantly felt “back to normal” again. In conclusion, I was excited about getting up and walking around, but until I have to, I will be content with my -6 degree home.
Time will tell if my bone density has changed!


Click here for how to get a similar DEXA SCAN wherever you live!