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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Poisoned potatoes!

Well, first the good news. I have a job interview next week! WooHoo! Another Daan Sarf, and possibly one that will require me to give up my car-free status and buy a money pit. Oh well, couldn't last for ever I suppose. I celebrated the good news by submitting another job application - well it wouldn't do to get too excited would it - that's not very British.

The interviewer for the upcoming interview saw me speak at the conference I attended a few months ago, and insisted that I come and see the poster displaying his research group's work - which I feel bodes well. Unfortunately, he is one of four on the interview panel - and they want me to give a short presentation. Since there will be an expectation that there is some progress in my work since then, I am in a mad dash for results - but then, when am I not?

So the last thing I needed was to be ill last week. I had been developing a cough and tickly chest all of the previous week, something I attribute to my mate's coughing girlfriend at the wedding we attended that weekend. Perhaps standing outside all of Saturday watching Live8 wasn't to clever then - but as they say in Canada, meh. Anyways I manfully struggled into work at the beginning of this week - I was like a toy with a flat battery. I had absolutely no energy whatsoever and could barely check my email. I did a few odds and sods before throwing in the towel and going back to bed. Finally, the coughing subsided enough on Thursday for me to go in Friday morning for lab meeting. I rolled in at 0945 (it would have been earlier but the swipecard computer had crashed and wiped half of the staff's details meaning I had to queue to get in). With the clock ticking I had to do three simultaneous experiments (and come in all weekend to to make up lost time), but funnily enough I was full of energy and all jazzed up - it's a lot easier to work like a dog when the results will immediately benefit you.

Lunchtime, just a quick one. A jacket potato with cottage cheese and some garlic bread at the student refectory. Very nice but hardly exotic I 'm sure you will agree, then back to the lab.

Ninety minutes later, I started to feel rough. I was now in the middle of a procedure that couldn't be put down. I worked fast, hoping for a communal coffee at 3pm to perk me up. Three pm arrived and I took my lab coat off, following everyone to the kettle. My stomach felt like I had swallowed a football.
"Back in a moment" I called sprinting for the loo.
Just in time as it happened. I'll spare you the details but it wasn't pretty and amazingly, my stomach seemed to be even worse now, cramping big time.

Finally it was dilemma time - the sink is beside the throne. Dare I? Or is that just too gross for words? Too gross I decided and there is no way to clean up after myself. So I stood up, pulled my trousers back on, flushed the toilet twice, then got down on my hands an knees and said "hello !" to my jacket potato again. Charming. Then of course I flushed again - and sat back down again quickly.

What the fuck was all that about I asked myself, wiping the tears from my eyes? The potato tasted fine, and seemed to be cooked. The cottage cheese appeared OK. It's unlikely to have simply been dirty hands from the server, that would transfer bugs which usually take several hours to incubate - symptoms after 90 minutes suggests acute poisoning from food that has been incubating bugs for some time - thus you get a direct dose of the toxin rather than having to wait for the bacteria to produce the toxin.

The problem was that all three experiments that I had started had to be finished that day. and I still had about 9 hours to go... Joy.

Still could be worse - the nearest bathroom is approximately 17 seconds from my bench at full sprint and late at night there isn't usually a queue...

PS - I know you'll ask MadDog, but unfortunately I didn't think to save a sample to post you. I will remember next time I promise.

PPS - All back to normal Saturday, and no major incidents for the rest of Friday - I finished up at about 1 am.



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