I Became a Guinea Pig, All in the Name of Science!
You're injecting me with what???!!
I got a call the other day from a doctor friend at Yale's Mental Health Center. He started off with the words, "Jarrod, we don't have a lot of money so what I'm going to be asking of you is purely for the advancement of our research and you'll be doing so mostly out of altruism." It's almost impossible to say no to, especially when it involves getting injected with a dangerous strain of bacteria widely known as the cause of several product recalls.
He then went on to explain that, essentially, I will be injected with E. coli after taking mind-altering drugs and then monitored for 6 to 8 hours. If I feel well after this, and my blood pressure and vitals are normal, I can go home. I will be doing this out of altruism. Again... it's almost impossible to say no to.
This study is to monitor the development of symptoms of depression when the immune system is activated. The E. coli is an endotoxin which will, hopefully, trigger an immune system response from me. The mind-altering drug is an anti-depressant which will be given to me on and off throughout the length of the study (about six weeks) to monitor the effects it has on the symptoms.
I will sit in a room for 6 to 8 hours while my vital signs are monitored every 15 minutes to ensure that I'm not going to take a surprise turn for the worst. Blood will be drawn regularly and subjected to routine blood tests, as well as checking for protein levels of the endotoxin. More interestingly, though, it will be tested for genetic variations that may make me more susceptible or resistant to the E. coli. I'm hoping that I come out super-resistant, and that E. coli is not my kryptonite. That could be disastrous.
In the grand scheme of things, this is not necessarily the worst thing someone has had to endure for science. We all know the story of Marie Curie. She willingly, yet unknowingly, subjected herself to deadly radiation to pioneer the field. She also won two Nobel Prizes in two different fields, physics and chemistry. What a gal. My hat's off to her, and I could never hope to accomplish what she has... unless of course genetic testing reveals that I somehow have the cure for E. coli and by sacrificing myself I will save a good deal of the world from food poisoning and other various nasties associated with it. I forget the exact probability I was quoted, but the good Doctor assured me it was small.
Taco Bell, risks vs. inconveniences, fun with marsupials.
It is not every day one gets injected with E. coli on purpose (unless you eat at Taco Bell often) and then given drugs, but for me it will become fairly routine over the next couple of weeks. One day every other week for the next two months or so I will be receiving my injection, of a bacteria responsible for several product recalls, and monitored for an entire day. In the meantime Ive got to pop the pills they give me.
It's interesting and funny that they call their warnings potential "Risks and Inconveniences," and the list is quite long. They range from "problems" with the endotoxin and drugs, to potential harm associated with pregnancy or nursing, of which I hope I don't experience. Oprah made a big deal recently about a man who became pregnant, but he was a she and it was not so remarkable in my opinion. Someone who has a uterus getting pregnant is Oprah-worthy material? If I became pregnant as a result of experimentation that would be Oprah-worthy. I imagine it being somewhat like a mix between a seahorse and a marsupial, like some kind of mutant Wombat Sea Dragon. Then perhaps she'll give me a new Saturn.
They also don't really make it clear which ones are risks and which ones are merely inconveniences, but I'm fairly certain that E. coli injections are in the "Risk" category. Perhaps the mind-altering drug is merely an inconvenience.
In case of my sudden disappearance, call Oprah.
So for the next couple of weeks I will be updating this as to my progress. I am assured that this may affect my mood, so if my writing somehow changes drastically and takes a turn for the worse you'll all know that it's not my fault. Blame science.
If I don't publish anything ever again, something disastrous has occurred. I want you to notify the media. Tell them my story. Tell them I died how I lived- shouting, "Holy &%$#, did you just inject me with E. coli?!"
- E. coli Plush Toy
Here you can get your very own E. coli plush toy! They also have the common cold, head lice, the plague, and several others. Head over there if you want to collect them all. Strangely, the E. coli one looks a lot like the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
- Mad Scientist Page
This is a link to a Mad Scientist's forum. If you're interested in injecting your own patients, willing or not, with deadly strains of bacterium and viruses then head on over here and check out what other mad scientists are doing.
- CDC - Escherichia coli
No article about E. coli is complete without a link to the Center for Disease Control's informational web page. Check this out if you're interested in learning more about E. coli! Bring the kids, it's educational!
- E. coli Statistics
At first you might think this is a neat page filled with cool stats such as, "How many people get injected with E. coli each year in the name of science?" But it's not. It's a bit sciencey for most people, but I am a guinea pig for science now.
- CT Mental health Center
This is the website for the CT Mental Health Center in Yale's Department of Psychiatry. You can check out all their studies, facilities, programs, and perhaps even donate your time and body to the pursuit of science as well.