Monday, August 25, 2008

Sometimes science hurts

A weekend of field work has left me sore and exhausted and my trusted field assistant (the husband) in bed dreadfully ill.  Nothing ever seems to go as planned when I'm in the field.  There is always something I'm unable to do that I have to report back on to the professor come Monday morning.  This time events were totally out of my control, which actually made me feel a bit better.  The tasks may be unfinished, but not because of some personal failing on my part.  
This weekends mission had been to do the regular site maintenance (mowing down the alleys between the plots) and to cut into the weed jungle to install two new experiments (28 plots).  We utilized a dull machete and gas powered brush mower to cut paths in the jungle (my hands are soar enough today to make typing a great challenge).  It was exhausting but exhilarating and the field assistant and I collapsed into the tent that night confident we'd have the job finished by noon the next day.  

And then the vomiting started.  

Camping is usually great fun, even work related camping, until you are ill.  And then there is no place you want to be besides at home in your bed.  I'm quite certain it is the same for all people around the world, when you are sick you want to be at home, in your own bed, period.  I've had this experience before, the research group I worked with as an undergrad camped during the field season.  A delightful experience until I got the flu, and suddenly even the most luxurious camping was a misery.

So, sunday morning I packed up camp and drove the field assistant home to his own bed and the comfort that it could provide.  Unfortunately the 3 and 1/2 hour car ride was lengthened to nearly 5 hours because of the need to stop repeatedly (and the need to wash vomit of the side of the truck).  

Once the patient was tucked in and sleeping feverishly I was able to finished the job of unloading gear and returning the half washed pickup.  It was incredibly draining to do all this on my own, but even as tired as I was I had resigned myself to a sleepless night.  I thought with him feverish and sick I'd sleep lightly, ply him with medicines, try to help him feel better.  All the proper caregiving duties that you feel obligated to do when your loved one is sick, but alas I did not.  Instead I slept like a corpse, selfishly ignoring the rest of the world until the alarm called me to consciousness.   

As a result of the deep sleep I feel quite refreshed for a monday morning, but also a bit guilty.  Beyond the soreness of my hands and a slight stiffness in my back I fared quite well this weekend, but the poor husband/field assistant is going to need at least a week to recover.

1 comment:

pelf said...

I remember I was sick on a field trip a few years ago. It wasn't a hard-core field trip, we were visiting sites and not doing anything particularly hard/tiring.

Anyway, I felt sick I was almost admitted into the hospital.

And I remember back then that all I wanted was my bed. Not the hospital bed, but my own bed :D