“I Think There’s Bone Marrow in My Cleavage” and Other Things You Don’t Want to Hear in Lab

Oh my. This week has been one of the longest, most tiring weeks of work I’ve ever had.

The madness started Tuesday night. We’re running an experiment that is called “Flow”, and it’s one of the longest, most complicated protocols I’ve ever ran. Thank goodness I wasn’t doing this alone. To prep for two long days in a row, I went to bed early on Tuesday night, before 9pm. That was probably my first mistake. I woke up a little after 1am and could not for the life of me go back to sleep. I tried everything. Milk, reading, BBC’s Planet Earth, laying in bed, sleeping on the couch… nothing worked. At 4:30 am I gave up and started getting ready for work. I knew this was not going to be good. I used to work in developmental neuropsychology, where we studied the effects of sleep loss on the brain’s processing of speech sounds… so I know my mental acuity for the day was not going to be sharp.

Somehow, T and I managed to pull off 13 surgeries in a record 6 hours. Not without consequences, though. I took a quick break to drink some water. My lunchbox is black, and one side has a loose thread on it that is frayed. As I took a drink from my water bottle, I saw the frayed end of my lunchbox and I literally jumped because I thought I saw a mouse. Hallucinations are not what I like to have on stressful days.

It didn’t get much better when I got home, either. I kept forgetting words, and David had to fill them in for me. So again, I went to bed early, and went into work early to set up so we could hit the ground running.

Things you do not want to hear in lab on an already-stressful day:

“I think I got bone marrow in my cleavage.” (Normal people never hear this sort of thing, right?!?)

“The cage flooded. Do you remember the numbers?”

“Someone stole our centrifuge.”

“The machine we reserved is… broken…”

“She can only run our samples if we get them there before 3:00.”

My brain was fried by the time we were done, at 5:30. I didn’t even have time to really grab lunch. I inhaled my PB&J sandwich while running down the hallway to one of the labs we were using. I left the lab a mess when I left for the day, I was too tired to bother with it. I am so glad it’s over. And we even got results! Which means we’re going to repeat it in a few weeks. (And, T treated us to lunch yesterday as a reward… in addition to letting us go early.) Until then, I’m going to go over my protocol again and clean it up a bit. This protocol is ridiculous, and I refuse to be that scatterbrained and overwhelmed next time.


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