Tuesday, August 23, 2011

an interesting ending, a new beginning

Today was my last day in the study. I went for an exit interview, a slew of paper and computer tests, a blood draw, a final meeting with my study guide assistant. I went in at 10am. First up, a 1 inch stack of paperwork. I filled out quality of life surveys, gratitude surveys, attitude surveys, a death perception survey. I filled out general psych surveys. I answered questions about my goals. I answered questions about my general emotional state. I clicked a mouse for long lines displayed on a screen, and tried to NOT click when the displayed line was short. I clicked buttons to cooperate or not, earning fake money depending on which option the computer chose. I filled out more paperwork.

Then I went down to the lab for a blood draw. Nurse 1 kept thumping my veins and shaking his head. He tied the rubber tubing around one arm, thumped, shook his head. Then he moved the rubber tubing to the 2nd arm, thumped my veins, shook his head. He moved the rubber tubing back to the first arm and stuck the needle in. Missed the vein. He tried again. Missed again. Then he called in another nurse. She repeated the routine. She stuck me once, missed the vein. Stuck me again, said she knew she got it that time, but no blood. She called another nurse. She thumped by veins, found one she liked, and got the sample. I recited my mantra in my head, took deep breaths and tried to keep the nurses calm during the whole procedure.

Bandaids on both arms, and feeling like a pincushion, I went back upstairs. I met with one of the psychologists to discuss my overall experience, what I felt I got out of the psilocybin, the meditation, the mantra, the groups.

THen I met with another psychologist, to talk some more about the study. We talked for a few minutes and then the building began to shake. We both thought it was the construction crew outside, colliding with the building. The shaking got worse. A painting flew off the wall, and the file cabinet drawers started rattling. We ran out into the hall, I grabbed my backpack and we headed down the stairs with everyone working on the floor. When we got downstairs, the guard said it was the entire medical center, not just the building. Not a construction accident, a 5.9 earthquake. We stood out in the parking lot, and did more of my exit interview. I took a few minutes to call home, and make sure everyone was fine.

After about 20 minutes, we got the all clear and went back in. I finished up my interview, and met with my study assistant. We talked about different types of meditation, and she had some suggestions for things I might want to try. We hugged, and she walked me back downstairs.

The study was officially over, with a most interesting ending, I think. I certainly will never forget it.

Today was also a new beginning. Now I meditate because I meditate. I use my mantra, because that's what I do. I don't do it for the study, and I won't have guidance, or input, or requirements. It will be what I do because I want to, or need to do it. And it will be something I do on my own. I look forward to where it takes me.

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