First visit redux

The study coordinator sent me scads of information about my upcoming visits: a complete schedule, where to go, how to get there, what to expect, etc. So I felt quite prepared by the time I reported to the Clinical Research Center at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center for my first study visit.

Unfortunately, my body wasn’t prepared. I had traveled just two days earlier from Vancouver, Canada, back to Ohio after spending several days there at a conference. Apparently I didn’t drink enough water because I was dehydrated, causing my veins to be very stingy with my blood. The study coordinator graciously redesigned my entire schedule on the spot, and I started again two days later, this time remembering to drink plenty of water.

I tried to convince the nurses in the Clinical Research Center that I normally stay hydrated and that my first visit was a fluke, but they did not want to take any chances at sticking me with a needle more than necessary. So when I arrived, they let me lie in a bed to relax and placed a heating pad on my arm to promote blood flow.

My veins responded well to the nurse’s technique (she’s clearly not new to this), allowing the finger stick for my cholesterol reading and the blood draw from my arm to easy and uneventful, much to the delight of my poor veins.

The nurses also weighed me, measured my height, and took my blood pressure. For this first visit, I completed a lengthy online questionnaire about my eating habits – which was the most time-consuming part, by far. I actually didn’t finish before I left and was able to complete it later that day.

Before I arrived I had been asked to complete a three-day, hand-written food diary as well. The nutritionist went over the details to make sure she understood all of my thorough (*patting myself on the back) notes. She advised me on ways to eat less fat since I would be adding two tablespoons of oil to my diet every day for the study.

The nurse also shared suggestions from other study participants about how to use the oil – as a salad dressing or mixed into mashed potatoes, for example. I was asked to not cook the oil because that would change its properties.

The study coordinator took me to the kitchen to retrieve my very own bottle of oil, and I was sent on my way – but not before she gave me some breakfast! Though she warned me when I first showed interest in the study that there would be no monetary compensation for my participation (some research studies offer small payments to volunteers), I was pleasantly surprised to find out that she would feed me. The juice, cereal, and fruit was actually pretty good too.

Learn more about volunteering for a research study


Emily Caldwell science writer and co-editor

Read more posts from Emily

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Categories: The Participant's Point of View

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