Me, aka. AB12345 — The Temp Lab Rat

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

It seemed impossible to make an average of this estrogen pool and yet, we were about to share the same adventure.

I was all in for the journey but certainly didn’t expect the trip to be windowless; I guess it was to avoid outsiders to observe the human zoo we were representing…or to simply prevent us from escaping mid-way through the experiment. I wasn’t clear on what to expect when I had signed up; The promised cheque of $1425 was a good enough motivation for me to sign.

I raised my eyebrows. The female lab technician didn’t offer me a chance to think. She grabbed my wrist and studied the tag. There was no name on it. Only the code of the study, my subject ID — a sequence of seemingly random letters and digits — and the purpose of her inquiry, my number.

Number 13.

That number didn’t mean anything else than my spot in the queue and my designated chair in the room, but it dictated my entire planning for the days to come. She checked my breath to make sure I was sober, gesturing for my blow in the opposite direction and ordering me to put my mask back on straight afterward. Duh, thanks, I’ve heard about Covid! Then, she proceeded to search — or rather, rummage! — my bag for prohibited items. Her eyes glowed when she found a long-forgotten pack of gums at the bottom of my backpack. She raised it high above her head as if it was crack, “confiscated!”. I shook my head and blurted out excuses, “Sorry, I forgot it was even in there.” “You can’t have food here!” Food? The poor thing considers tempered gums dinner. She should be amongst us; she seems to need as much cash as I do.

Photo by Taiga Ishii on Unsplash

But all of a sudden, everything sped up…

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Are you pondering what I’m pondering?…

Why Number 10 didn’t give up if it was so bad? Why wasn’t her family supporting her? What about the other participants? I was eager to know these ladies, understand their motivations, and hear their stories, yet I was too scared to ask; opening up meant exposing myself to their pain, and I wasn’t sure I could tolerate the emotional tide, in addition to the physical drain.

Seventeen dollars weren’t worth reconsidering all my biggest life decisions.

Eventually, I smelled food being warmed up. Bliss… in the waiting. The clock had to show ‘11:46:00’ before I could dive in the meal tray placed on my individual table. Chicken soup, chicken leg with rice, grilled vegetables, crackers, juice, and fruit. The smell was inviting, and patience had never been my forte. Seconds dragged. Screw the vegetarian diet I’d been following for months. When the soundless bell rang my time, I dived onto the chicken like a vulture.

In my mind, I was sunbathing in Miami. Best holidays in a year…and paid too. Wicked!

Right after the next to last draw, I requested my catheter removed; There was solely one withdrawal left for the day, scheduled four hours later. When I finally recovered mobility in my arm, I almost cried. Suddenly, a realization hit me:

I had intentionally wounded my body to offer my mind some rest.

Mmmmh interesting.

Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash



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Aurelie B.

Aurelie B.

Me? Positive, witty and a dash sarcastic. You? Like-minded reader, ready to follow me on my adventures through Medium.