Being a Guinea Pig

Last week was interesting. Monday, Thursday, and Friday were no-school days because of blizzards. The roads and sidewalks continue to be icy, with caked-on slabs of slippery snow, allowing me to delay my weekly grocery shopping trip and providing no incentive whatsoever to go for a walk.

Still, I had a good week. One of my personal goals was to try being a professional guinea pig. Just once, I wanted to know what it is like to get paid for contributing to science. I had given my name to somebody who does sleep studies and she emailed me last month about one that sounded appealing, so we set up a time.

On the big day, I drove over after dinner.  Feeling not a little self-conscious, I parked at the hospital and walked in with my bag to the CRU (Clinical Research Unit) where I checked myself in.  They have a whole unit for research… and some people spend almost a month here! They have a dining area, their own lab, not to mention patient rooms with all sorts of contraptions.

After some basic intake questions, consent forms, vitals, height and weight, and a normal EKG, they got me a snack and let me watch the Olympics.  Then the delightful sleep technologist came in and spent an hour getting me ready for the study. She put sensors on my arms, legs, and all over my head.  Here I am all dolled up with my electrodes, sensors, and a blue cap to keep things on.

(Note – this was before they made me put on the pulse oximeter on my finger and the nasal-cannula-like thing in my nose. You’d have to pay to see that picture).

Speaking of which… I got paid to sleep!

How did I sleep? Well, I won’t lie, it took me longer than usual to go to sleep, and I woke up a couple times during the night. But I did sleep for at least 6 hours, and in the morning after a few more relatively non-intrusive tests I got breakfast and a hot shower.

Some people do sleep studies like this for 16 or 21 days. They make really good money but they can’t leave the unit. Sometimes, people have sleep deprivation studies where they only get 4 hours of sleep a night, and the nurses and researchers make sure they don’t take catnaps during the day.  When they are there for that long, the sleep technologists glue the sensors on. They braid the girls’ hair so that the sensors can stay on for longer.

There are all kinds of other studies, too, of course. It all depends on what you can tolerate. Fat biopsy? CT scan? If you’re interested in making some money this way, here is the website: There is a link on the side for Healthy Volunteers, but if you have a health condition there may be a study or clinical trial just for you!

So after my sleep study I took the dogs for a walk and realized what a glorious day it was. I knew a blizzard was coming and this would be my last chance for a while, so I headed to Eastwood Golf Course and enjoyed a quiet solitary ski in the soft snow. AMAZING.

Here is my blissed-out selfie from my ski. Yay sunshine! Yay Vitamin D! Yay above-zero temperatures!

Then a blizzard came… and we are supposed to get more snow today… but at least I got one glorious ski in!

Next up: what is a Pisco Sour and how do I make one?!


Last weekend was delightfully busy. On Friday we went to SocialIce, the one time of year that Rochesterites get out and celebrate the coldness of winter by turning Peace Plaza into an ice sculpture gallery complete with alcoholic drinks. We met our friends from Chile there, Meni and Mario,  and we all agreed… it was too cold to be outside! The sculptures were lovely, the music was inspiring, but we spent as little time out there as possible.

Saturday was Meni’s birthday so I took her out for a girl’s afternoon at Diamond Nails, where we both got mani-pedis, enjoyed a massage chair, and relaxed. Here is Meni with her fantastic nails!


Then we headed to Stam for some tasty gelato. However, we had to cut our afternoon short and rush back so I could get some tax paperwork from my former landlord…

….or that’s what Meni thought. Really, that last bit was an elaborate set-up to get Meni to the clubhouse where her husband had prepared a surprise party. Meni was very surprised – because she has a summer birthday in Chile, no one is ever around. Success!! After eating, drinking, and shooting the breeze, we watched some of the very first events of the Olympics. I appreciated how they alternated snowboarding with pairs figure skating. “Something for the boys…something for the girls… coming up soon, something for the boys…”

On Sunday, Chris played handbells at the Festival of Music at church. He knocked the music out of the park using both handbells and the bell tree. Here is an action shot – doesn’t he look cute in a tux?!!!

Afterwards our friend Carolyn, my other soul mate (a flute playing cultural anthropologist!), had everyone in the performance over to dinner.

Of course any weekend so fun must be followed by a week of blah. But even last week had its moments. On Wednesday the 100+ nurses, patient care assistants, and unit coordinators in the float pool gathered for a Team Days. It was FANTASTIC. They fed us, they talked to us about stress relief and conflict management, and most importantly they gave us all the same night off. Many of team went out for drinks afterward and proved, once and for all, that float nurses are NOT antisocial or not community minded… they just never have the same night off!

I was the exception that proved the rule, as I was too busy attending a personal finance course… I have no excuse!

Friday’s Bible study at Side by Side was fantastic. It is such a blessing to have this group of women around me and I really appreciated what everyone had to say. I realized I have really been “leaning on my own strength” with some struggles lately and turning to other people to feel better instead of turning to God.

I worked all weekend and am looking forward to using this week off to catch up on school. First step though will be removing the incredible amount of snow we have acquired in the last 72 hours. Oh, Minnesota.

Cute Dog Pictures Post

February, the month of loooove! One thing I’m not loving is winter. I am accepting it because I cannot change it, but I am not loving it. Warm up already!!

I think everyone gets a little Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) this time of year, this year more than most. Even the long-time Minnesotans agree it’s been a long, cold one… and it’s only half over! “Remember we got snow in May last year,” they say, shaking their heads when I try to brightly suggest that it may be coming to an end.

So no, I don’t love winter… not this year. But what I do love are my dogs and my husband, and to celebrate that – and because I haven’t tried anything really new or daring for the past few weeks – I have a few fun doggy pictures!

First of all here is Duke looking ADORABLE with his disgusting chicken (or, as we say, “Duke con pollo“):

Duke brought that chicken with him from his foster family and it’s still intact, having outlived many other stuffed animals. Duke’s favorite place in the house, as you can tell, is the bed.

Here is Earl con elefante:

Photo: Come on, Earl, have a little dignity!

Earl’s favorite place in the house is with the humans, wherever they happen to be – the kitchen, the laundry room, the bathroom. Sometimes getting out of the shower is a challenge. He absolutely loves that little pink elephant, even though he could swallow it whole.

These boys definitely love each other. Here is an example:

Please note that the crate door is open. We have 2000 square feet in this house, two perfectly good crates, and a bed, and they still decided to curl up together!

Well, that’s all for now, folks! “Like” this if you think my dogs are adorable!