Friday, January 21, 2011

Taking One for Team PD, or The Joys of Joining a Long Term Study

Post 38
Alternate Title: Fledgling Phlebotomist Fails to Find a Flow.
I agreed to participate in a long term PD study at my hospital.  It seemed like the right thing to do. They are looking for DNA markers that may predict the particular progression of Parkinson's in individuals. The study will eventually include over 10,000 PD patients.  Each must give blood (lots of blood) once a year and answer cognitive test questions.
The Doctor who administered the test was a PHD, not a medical doctor.  He had just taken the course on drawing blood (Phlebotomy 101) so that he could administer all tests by himself.  When he gave up on finding a vein in Arm One and switched to Arm Two, I realized that I was part of his clinical training (Phlebotomy 201). He was good natured and very apologetic. (The next day, I had big matching bruises on both arms.)
We had fun with the cognitive portion of the test. It was a series of timed questions. My response to one question, “Name as many animals as you can”, got us both laughing.  Probably most people take him to the zoo (i.e. elephant, giraffe, hippo).  I went for a mental walk through the Pennsylvania woods. White tailed deer, fox, opossum, porcupine, box turtle, and garter snake. Then I started to turn over rocks. I am always out to impress my doctors. In my mind I saw salamanders, newts, and skinks.

The doctor stopped his timer. “Wait, don’t you mean skunks?” he asked.

“Well yeah, skunks too, but I’ll get to them.” I said. “Right now I’m still turning over rocks.  You can find lots of creatures under rocks.” I continued, “Toad, tree frog, copperhead snake.”
“Times up.” Doc said. “Are you sure there are skinks? He asked.

“Sure. Look it up” I said.


  1. Hi Mike, This is my favorite post - probably cause I love everything with animals in it. I wonder what they would have said if you started listing herons, cardinals, white-eyed vireo. Do birds count? Deb