Pre-trial Day

In all of my 67 years, I have been called to jury duty once, about three years ago. I answered the call once. It would be a big trial lasting about a week; murder, I think. I sat in a courtroom filled with possible jurors, nearly 100. I was uncomfortable. I was still in remission, but who knows what kind of diseases were pumping through the air ducts. I stayed and listened as juror prospects were questioned. The jury was seated before they called my name. Still, the experience was invaluable.

That is all I really KNOW about pre-trial legal formalities. I say really know, because I’m not sure how much I can believe when I watch legal shows on TV, or when I watch legal drama movies. Maybe I can trust novelist John Grisham a little more – at least he is a lawyer. I’m reasonably certain that many hours are charged to the client by the defense attorney long before jury selection occurs. I imagine an equal number of hours are expended by the prosecution.

What does this have to do with my experience with a drug trial? I spent all of one day in pre-trial theatrics. I suppose theatrics was not a good choice of words, however some of the events felt that way. A better word would be “testing,” though visiting with the doctor was not a test in the medical sense of the word.

The day started at 6:00 AM with showers and breakfast in order to board the 8:00 shuttle to MD Anderson. Appointments began at 8:30 with a visit with the trial coordinator to sign on the dotted line. We had previously read the details about the trial, the expenses that could be charged to our insurance, the expenses taken care of by the hospital and the drug company, and (horror of horrors) the release of liability for anything that goes wrong. I can’t sue the hospital nor the drug company.

This was followed by blood draws. I’m used to them, but not to this extent. Usually, the phlebotomist draws three or four vials of blood. This gal drew sixteen! (I volunteered to be included in the research portion of the trial as well.) I smiled and donated probably half a pint of blood to science.

Once this was completed, we had time before we visited with Dr. Wierda. Yes, that’s his real name. I would guess the good doctor to be in his 40s. He was dressed in his lab coat. His hair was short cut, but not a buzz – long enough to look a bit frazzled. He reminded me of a mad scientist. Like most doctors, he was running an hour late.

By the time we were finished with him, we had all of five minutes to go from MD Anderson Main to MD Anderson Outpatient Radiology, about three blocks away! I asked directions. (Shocking for a male, I know.) We took the elevator down from floor 8 to floor 3 and walked across the walkway to another building, but couldn’t find an elevator. Asking directions again, we finally made it to the ground floor and walked to the Radiology Center for chest X-rays and CT scans. We made the trip in record time, arriving at 5:05 PM – only five minutes late.
We waited. Eventually a nice red-headed nurse called me back for an “interview”. I asked if I would be offered a job. She told me I could have her badge and she would go home! I turned down the offer. The big question was how I wanted to take the contrast material for the scans. I could take it in a juice or the traditional white, chalky Barium form. I had done the Barium any times, so I opted for the cranberry juice – all 32 ounces of it. I drank it and waited the one hour for the material to move through my system.

Around 7:00 PM, I was finally called back to the prep area and ordered to strip. Oh, and put on a set of scrubs. The nurse then hooked me up to an IV for the required hydration before the CT scans of my body from groin to head. This was followed by chest x-rays. At 7:50 PM we were released to head home. We caught the shuttle at 8:10 and were in our hotel by 9:00 PM where we munched on the remainder of pizza we brought from home.

We completed our pre-trial workup except for the 24 hour urine collection which began at 9:00 in the morning and would be completed when we returned the sample to Fast Track Lab the next morning.

Now we wait for the “judge” (Abbot Labs) to decide if I am qualified to enter their drug test program. We may not know until Monday. (The test process began on Wednesday.)

If I may paraphrase a quote from Humphry Bogart as “Rick” in Casablanca, “Here’s waitin’ on you kid.” PLEASE hurry up and say “Yes.”

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