Shortly before I went on vacation recently – back to Wisconsin, back home to see my family – I had an opportunity to partake in a research study here in my little town of Mountain Grove. For my valued opinion on the pros and cons of natural gas and an hour of my time, I was paid $100.00. While at the study, I met a lady who worked for a local newspaper who told me about a company in Springfield, MO, who had recently placed an ad looking for volunteers for a clinical research trial for an anti-aging supplement. The study paid $800.00.
Long story short (?!), I applied and was accepted into the clinical research study. It is scheduled to last nine months. Of course I don’t plan to be in the area nine months from now, but conveniently, because of the length of the trial, they will be making payments of $200.00 after month one, $200.00 after month four, and a final payment of $400.00 upon completion, next April.
My first appointment is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on Monday, July 11, just a few days after my return from vacation. Of nearly equal importance to me as the financial aspect, is the idea that taking part in this clinical trial will require a commitment from me. A commitment to get in my car and go somewhere, and hopefully keep me, for a time, in a vacation state of mind.
Monday, July 11, 2016
The first appointment (at 3:00 p.m.) requires an 8-hour fast. Nothing except water, and lots of it. No problem. Water is one of my healthier addictions. I am debating whether I should set my alarm to get up at 6:00 a.m. and have a cup of coffee and a light breakfast, or simply sleep late. I decide to go to bed early the night before and allow myself to wake naturally, play it by ear. I am in bed by 10:30 p.m. I wake up at 10:00 a.m. Wow. I must still be exhausted from my vacation.
I have also been instructed to abstain from alcohol for 2 days prior, and avoid strenuous exercise. No problem; it’s 100 freakin’ degrees outside. So I laze around on the couch until it’s time to leave. I’m not sure how long it will take to get there, and I want to leave myself some time to explore the city, do some shopping. And afterwards, take myself out to a restaurant. I leave at about 12:30 p.m.
The place where I’m going turns out to be on the far northwest side of Springfield, in a commercial business area outside of walking distance to any shopping areas. It takes nearly 90 minutes to get there, and when I arrive I have 45 minutes to kill. A little time to explore, hopefully without getting lost. (I could easily launch into a fun little story about why I don’t use GPS and all those other nifty little other-worldly apps and such, but I’ll save that for another time.)
I need a bathroom and all the gas stations are on the wrong side of the street, so I end up at a Walgreen’s. That’s OK. It’s been years since I’ve been in a Walgreen’s. I browse the nutritional supplements section, use the restroom and then hit the summer-fun-sale selections, 50% off: a wire butterfly plant-sitter, a red & white ceramic hanging candle-holder with cute bird cut-outs, and an awesome sun & moon metal wall sculpture. All for $15.00. I am so happy.
I arrive back at QPS Bio-Kinetics right on time, parking in the shade. There are two buildings with five labeled entrances; I have no idea where to go, but finally find the correct door, made obvious by the other 50 people standing in line, in the sun, in the now 110 degree heat, with no shade. Interesting conversations ensue, including discovering that I could have perhaps enrolled in another study that pays $2,000.00, requiring only two 4-night stays in a 1-month period of time in a dormitory with dozens of complete strangers. That’s sounds uncomfortable to me, which means it’s probably just the kind of thing I need to do. Even with time off of my two jobs, it would still be profitable. However, I can only be enrolled in one study at a time.
After about 15 minutes, the door opens and the line finally begins to move. We are presented with 20+ pages of paperwork: legal forms, consent forms, instructions and our previously completed applications for review and confirmation. For the first time, I discover the purpose of the study: to evaluate the effect of TA65-MD on telomere length. Now we’re in my wheelhouse. I happen to remember this from my nutritional study days (not so long ago in the big scheme of things, and yet it feels like another life). Telomeres are known as the biological clock of our cells. They shorten with cell division and are an indicator of aging. If you can repair or lengthen your telomeres, you can slow down aging. This is one of the properties of resveratrol, a molecule present in red wine. Need I say more?)
Included in the paperwork are the day-by-day instructions for the next 9 months, with my next in-person appointment taking place at 5:30 a.m. next Monday, which is when I will receive my “drugs.” Hmmm. Am I really up to this? Yes, I am. I need to be up to this.
After finishing the paperwork, I am directed to the line where they will now take my blood, my height and weight and calculate my BMI. (The numbers are reported in metric so I don’t know how many pounds I weigh [what a relief], but I am a full inch shorter – almost two [5’4” instead of 5’6”] – than I thought I was.) On to blood pressure, temperature and respiration. Then I am dismissed, with instructions to call back at precisely 10:00 a.m. on Friday to see if I qualify. (“Studies are filled by competitive call backs. This is similar to a radio call-in contest; first to call, first to be placed in the study.”) [I made the cut.]
All done. It’s now 4:30 p.m. I haven’t eaten in 21 hours. Did I mention it’s hot outside?
But I am still determined to make the best possible use of my time in the big city, outside my box, my stifling, boring box, expand my world, expand my thinking, my horizons, my possibilities. My plan is to hit the main city roads and crisscross my way back east and south, take a turn here and there, see what grabs my attention. Find some food.
Let’s go this way. Am I going the right direction? Where are the shopping malls? Where are the strip malls? Can I at least find an AT&T store and buy a case that fits my cell phone? Crap, how did I end up on the bypass? I don’t want the bypass! I am always on the bypass! That’s the whole point…get me off the freakin’ bypass!
One wrong turn (really, just one?) and suddenly here I am, back on US Hwy 60, heading east, the city behind me, receding in my rearview mirror. Oh, well, I’ll be back next week.
I end up eating at Hardee’s in Rogersville. That’s OK, cuz it’s Rogersville (not Mountain Grove) and it’s Hardee’s which is a first for me. A half-pound bacon cheeseburger. And I eat the whole thing. (“Eat like you mean it!”)
Monday, July 18, 2016
My alarm goes off at 3:30 a.m. Normally my days start at 7:30 a.m. with hours for coffee, reflection, house-cleaning, cat time and that sort of thing. With two jobs, neither starts before 10:00 a.m. I love my mornings.
I have big plans for today, since I will be done with my study-stuff well before 8:00 a.m. I have packed a beach bag and will be heading to Pomme de Terre State Park, which comes complete with hiking trails, a lake and a beach. It’s an hour-plus drive north of where I will be in Springfield, probably 2½ hours from my house, but seriously, what else do I have to do? I don’t have to be at a job until 3:00 tomorrow afternoon. Let the adventure begin!
(I must say, while planning, preparing, dreaming, I laugh at myself more than once. “Really, Dawn?” You’re going to go on an adventure? You?” I have multiple conversations with myself about the likelihood of following through. But I end with this: “Be prepared. For anything. Give yourself to life and let life come to you.”)
I underestimate how long it will take to shower, pack and get ready. (I admit, I hit the snooze a couple of times. Remember, I’m used to leisurely mornings!) I am on my way by 4:30. I’ll be okay if I make it by 6:00. That’s what the instructions say.
I don’t like driving in the dark, but as I hit the edge of town, as I hit the highway on the road to my adventure, my beginning, my fresh new attitude, I spot a huge orange full moon, descending on the horizon in front of me, leading the way, I know it will be okay.
I wish so badly that I could end the story there.
Thirty miles west, my “Check Engine Light” comes on. I happen to be just coming up to a few-and-far-between exit for a truck stop, one of only 3 or 4 on my way, still close to “home.” It is an excruciating decision just to pull over. And then I can’t get my hood open (due to the front end damage done 3 months ago to my car while it was parked at work minding its own business). A good Samaritan guy helps me, but to no avail. The oil is good (of course it is. I just had an oil change before vacation).
I have no choice but to turn around and head back. To my over-heated house (not my home). I don’t understand, but I give it to God. I’m pretty sure the light indicator is some kind of sign, right? I don’t need no freakin’ neon light. No use being angry, or disappointed.
As the moon disappears in front of me over the horizon of yesterday, as the sun comes up behind me on the horizon of today, as I sit on the cool front porch listening to the birds and the world awakening, while I call QPS Bio-Kinetics to inform them of my no-show (and subsequent disqualification), I wonder, is it too early for wine? I could still work on my telomeres.