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Monday
Dec122011

Day Ten: Tales from the road

I am on the first leg of a 3 city research validation that involves sessions until 10pm and 6am flights…yay! So today I am going to write about my biggest research  travel adventure.

Ever since I could remember I wanted to be a doctor. I asked for Gray’s Anatomy (the hardcore book…not the fluffy TV show) for Christmas and took Latin in high school…like that would EVER be useful. However, when I realized that going to med school would put me out of the running for any top 30 under 30 nominations, I bailed on the whole doctor thing. I decided the next best thing would be art school…right? 

Well it was a jump, but art school ended up being an amazing experience. I learned how to understand what people want and how to deliver on those desires…but my whole wanting to change the world by curing AIDS went on the back burner for about a decade. That is, until I started working at Insight. I was drawn to Insight because I wanted to learn the more technical side of research, and I loved that I would be on projects that would really make a difference. I have been really lucky and have worked on a number of consumer medical products which I love, but medical projects have also presented quite a challenge. That’s because I am what I like to call a “master fainter.”

Over the course of my life I have fainted more than 30 different times. I have undergone every test possible to find out why. The best that any doctor has been able to determine: my body doesn’t properly process adrenaline. Stress=face-to-the floor. Most of the time my fainting has been associated with something physically happening to me: having blood drawn, cutting myself, physical therapy (weird I know). Once in a while I faint pretty randomly: once while sitting on a plane reading Malcom Gladwell. Over the years I have tried to cut back on caffeine, which I guess leads to stress responses in the body, and have become more attuned to my triggers. I am a total baby and need to lay down to get any kind of shot, but it keeps me from falling down later.

When I started Insight I was so excited to get to hang out in hardcore medical situations, but was also sort of worried that I might lose it…and that is exactly what happened my first week on the job. I flew to Japan with one of my new co-workers and our client to do research on laparoscopic tools. This means tools that are used for minimally invasive surgeries. The doctor can essentially poke a couple of holes in you and use a camera and some fancy tools to avoid having to cut you completely open.

My job was to understand potential challenges and opportunities for new laparoscopic tools. This meant interviewing nurse, doctors, scrub techs, central processing (sterilization), and observing a surgery. After flying all day and all night, we got to our hotel in Tokyo at about 11pm and had interviews starting the next morning at 7am. We ran, ran, ran all day and by the time we got to our 3pm surgery I was exhausted. Spending solid days listening to relay translation is a lot harder than most people realize.

So time for surgery: we are escorted to two different dressing rooms and told to put on specific scrubs, crocs, hair nets, and masks. This girl was rocking 3x scrubs in Japan, and was stuffed like a snausage.

 

After scrub suiting up we were escorted to the surgical suite where we waited for about an hour for the patient to be prepped. As soon as the patient was ready the medical team invited us in. My job was to stand in a corner and note everywhere that each person in the room moved during the surgery so we could create a workflow later. I was so into it. I loved seeing all of the action. That was until the room started to get smokey.

When doing laparoscopic surgeries, doctors use cauterizers to cut and seal skin or organs. Essentially all of the cutting that was happening was being done by burning, which made the patients stomach fill with smoke and then eventually fill the room with burning skin scented smoke. I was a goner.

I felt myself getting dizzy, then before I knew it I woke up on the floor of the Operating room with my snausage scrubs ripped open, little electrodes all over me, and 5 Japanese nurses, my client, and my new co-worker all standing over me. Great first impression huh?

 

As a veteran fainter- I can tell you that there is a whole new level of embarrassment when you faint in the middle of an OR. Luckily the doctors didn’t even notice and carried on with the procedure like nothing had happened. I however, left Japan with a concussion and a black eye.  

Always the researcher, I decided to video my experience being rolled from the OR to an observation room:

 

We ended up surviving the rest of the trip and did a great job analyzing the data to create a strong roadmap for future products…but it was touch and go there for a minute!

Have you ever had a major mishap in the field? How did you recover?

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December 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStkildabh

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