Am I Patient X?
A week ago I enrolled in FluCamp, admittedly, on a whim. I stumbled upon it while searching for volunteering opportunities, and was immediately attracted to the idea by the tidy sum of money you can make. I’ve never considered taking part in clinical trials before despite my interest in the subject — I have no idea why it never occurred to me sooner but I’m sure it’s some part of our human nature to be wary of these things. The purpose of FluCamp, according to the website, is “to further medical research and understanding, and help us to take the understanding of viral illnesses to a new level.” Hm, I thought as I casually applied, sounds good. And also — money.
Once my application was submitted I thought nothing of it.
Two days later I received a phone call from the clinic. A friendly lady named Rachel wanted some details from me, and a little chat about the enrollment process. I suddenly became aware that I had actually, properly signed up for the trial. A trial that involves a fortnight in quarantine with zero outside time and doctors in their special spacesuits prodding at me every day. I was quickly unsure. But Rachel reassured me of the safety aspects, discussed medical conditions with me, and offered to fund my travel to London for an initial assessment (Screening Gate #1, apparently) — OK LET’S DO THIS! But first I should ask my husband for his opinion since he will be taking care of our child on his own for those two weeks. So I spent a couple of hours researching to put together my pitch, and I must have pitched it very well because husband was fairly chilled out about it. As long as it doesn’t cost US any money and I’m not going to die of some super-flu…
The likelihood of anything going wrong is so small yet we all, at least in the UK, remember that horrible clinical trial that went wrong several years ago. Earlier this year I watched the BBC documentary all about it and I remember turning to husband and saying “No way would I do that!” with a firm stance on the matter. Following the research (and reassurances from friendly Rachel) I’m almost certain the FluCamp trial is as safe as it could possibly be, that is; I’m not going to die from a super-flu.
That night I had a dream about zombies.
I’ve always joked about checking buildings for the zombie-proofing when I enter one (no but really you should do that!) and I am, like many, a fan of the zombie-horror culture that has re-risen in recent years. I do keep a copy of Max Brooks Survival Guide. What could be worse than dying from a super-flu given to me by this trial? Well, dying then reanimating from a super-flu given to me by this trial of course! The good news is I will already be quarantined (providing I even get accepted into the trial) so if I am to become Patient X it probably won’t spread very far. My zombie legacy will amount to a swift execution I expect.
Will I help save the world from Zombies?
Will I do entirely the opposite?
Which brings me to the purpose of keeping a sort online real-time feed of the experience as it unfolds. My initial assessment takes place in Whitechapel on Tuesday, should I succeed I will continue to document the progress. If they take one look at me and say “Actually you already look much too flimsy for this…” then I suppose I’ll have to find alternative interesting things to write about?