Spoiler Alert: I had about 18 inches of wire sent up my nose, and down my throat so that they could measure my core temperature. If the description makes you queasy, don’t watch the video at the end of this post; I recorded the removal of the wire.
My day started out fairly normally, little did I know, that before the day was out, there would be a man standing over me jamming rubber tubing up my nose, telling me to, ‘it will all be over soon enough.’
Truthfully, it was not that bad, Matt was as courteous as only a Canadian can be, considering that he gently, almost lovingly, inserted 18 inches of thin tubing up my nose, then hands me a bottle of water and tells me to take small sips through the straw that is taped in place. The water in small sips is to help send the tube towards my stomach. Once in place, it was surprising easy to manage. I had to fight an initial gag reflex, but that dissipated relatively quickly. Within a few minutes, it felt like I had some snot lingering at the back of my throat. I had a frequent urge to swallow to try and clear it, but that died away as well. Once accustomed to it, the strangest sensation was that when I would swallow, I would feel a gentle tug on my nostril because the wire was taped in place so that I could not swallow it.
Today’s test was slightly different: I pedaled for 30 minutes at room temperature. Alternating periods of snorkel and snorkel-free. Then, they raised the humidity in the room periodically, looking for a particular reaction that I will describe a bit later. The other interesting fact was that Matt pulled out his garage door opener and waved it near my belly to discover that the pill I swallowed yesterday was still active.
I completed the episodes of ‘Abstract’ yesterday, so today I was watching ‘Stephen Fry in America.’ It is interesting to watch a foreigner explore America, they always see things slightly different than we do as Americans.
Once the humidity begins to tick upward, they ask that I refrain from swallowing because the saliva in my mouth is slightly cooler than my core. So, like a wrestler trying to make weight, I am spitting into a styrofoam cup. While the room did get warm, it was never unbearable. After about 10 minutes, I am told that when my core temp raises by 2 tenths more, we are done. Almost 5 minutes later the test is complete, I stop pedaling, they open the door and turn up the fan.
It is the evaporation of sweat off of the body that cools it down. Because severely burned skin no longer produces sweat, it is more difficult for the body to cool. The more burned skin a person has, the more prone they are to overheating. It can be quantified.
By monitoring my body temperature in a heated and humidified room,
they can determine at what point my body has lost the ability to regulate my core temperature. Instead of maintaining a stable internal temperature, everyone’s body temperature while spike at a certain point, but a person who cannot sweat as easily will spike earlier. When they notice my temperature starting to rise, they know that they have reached the threshold.
What I found very interesting about this is that they kept the temperature constant and increased humidity periodically. The 2 variables affect temperature regulation. They body can regulate temperature when it is hot and dry, but when it is hot and humid, the body struggles because the sweat will not evaporate. So, the next time you hear someone spouting on about ‘dry heat,’ know that there is some truth to it.
This is why you might find overhead misting systems in public spaces of the southwest; it provides additional moisture on the skin to cool it down. And for those who are not able to produce their own surface moisture, external sources are quite beneficial. (Does it also make your hair frizzy? This question is beyond my ability to address)
A few hours after the wire and tube have been removed from my nose, I have no lingering affects. I am aware of the back of my throat, but it feels similar to periods of excessive post-nasal drip; I am simply aware that it has had more contact with objects than usual. I am not sure if I have pooped the first thermometer-device, but I have not been checking my poops very closely so it might have happened. Rest assured that you, my faithful reader, will be the second person to know, when it happens.
I quickly drank a liter of water after the test. Between the sweating (I can sweat from the body parts that are not burned, and they sweat extra), and spitting in the cup, I was fairly dehydrated. It did not feel like a lot of work at the time, but I am drained now. It must have been more taxing than I realized. They were not able to give me any information about my personal reaction to heat and humidity because they need to analyze the data. Although, I don’t know how useful that information might be so I suppose it does not matter.
All told an interesting day. I have one more day of tests and tomorrows is fairly short, but intense. Then I get on the plane to head back home. One aspect of this experience is that it has moments of challenge, but at the end of the day I am back in a comfortable hotel room. Others are not so lucky.
I am not a religious person, but I do believe that we should help those that we can. Some days, it is as simple as acknowledging another person, other days it means giving something a bit more meaningful. The one phrase from yoga that I always return to is, lokah samasta sukhino bhavantu; may all beings be free of suffering.
And on that note, lets watch a video of wire being pulled from my nose!