Monday, May 17, 2010

Day 6.

The bathroom is the Urine Collection Station. Just outside the door into the john, there’s a counter and behind it sits a technician wearing a gown and latex gloves. Some studies involve urine collection, but not all of them. Our study required it the first few days, but we just had to pee in a cup once, first thing in the morning. Some studies involve collecting all your urine in a plastic container, so every time you pee, you have to stop at the counter, hold out your wrist to have your bar code scanned and then wait for the tech to grab your "urinal" (it's just a plastic container) from the shelf where they are all lined up and hand it to you.

So the tech has to watch everyone as they pass, and stop the subjects whose t-shirt color signifies they are in the study that requires urine collection. If they are wearing a t-shirt that doesn’t require it, then the tech has to buzz the bathroom door open.

Here’s where the comedy comes in. This urine vestibule is dimly lit with yellow light (I know! it’s like pee world back there) so the red t-shirts, the orange t-shirts, and the fuchsia t-shirts are indistinguishable. I think it’s the orange study right now that is collecting urine, and it’s a small study so the urine tech should have it pretty easy, but the red study is huge, maybe 30 subjects, and there’s the fuchsia study too, so the tech is going crazy back there, stopping everyone, staring at t-shirts to try to discern colors, trying to remember who is who, and everybody getting all indignant. From what I infer by listening to shop talk around here, urine duty is bottom of the totem pole, so to add this additional humiliation is a cruel joke.

Today we started with the glucometer readings, which require being stuck in the fingertip with a needle. It hurts. And they're going to do it 5 times a day for the next 10 days. I'd much rather they take it intravenously.

I can't decide whether to call my talkative neighbor Chatty or Exclamatia -- she repeats almost everything she says as a sort of outraged exclamation, as if to say Do you believe it?? ("I like my toast burnt. Black! Like this table! I'm talkin' 'bout burn that toast!!") in a Louisiana accent.

She and the guy in the bed between us were talking this morning and I eavesdropped on bits of the conversation. (I say eavesdropped, but they're 5 feet away from me. You have to put in earplugs if you don't want to hear people's conversations. And I do.) The guy was telling Chatty that a lesbian couple, neighbors or friends of his, had asked him to be their sperm donor -- they were planning on having a baby. He said that he thought about it but declined because he didn't want to be entangled in their lives and the life of a child that he wasn't going to raise. He and Chatty went on to debate whether or not it was a good idea for same-sex couples to raise children. They were both concerned about the stigma the child would have to deal with. They concluded the conversation agreeing that they didn't know exactly how to feel about homosexuals but that "nobody's perfect, and who am I to judge?"

That's the thing about the closet. When you get out of the liberal/artsy/lefty ghetto, you overhear people debating, right in front of you, whether or not you have a right to exist. It's amazing to me, has been since I was 14 years old, how people like this assume there is no one homosexual in the room, when they're in a room full of people. The only shift I see in this conversation is that 30 years ago the attitude was almost always more scornful. Now, something along the lines of "Everybody's got a right to their opinion" is more typical. Everybody's got a right to their opinion regarding whether or not I have a right to exist. Sweet.

Speaking of which, I miss my boyfriend like a motherfucker.

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