Diane

http://www.alittlebent.net - 42 Posts - 49 Comments

Allostatic Load and Stress-Related Disease

Diane
Allostatic load (AL) is a term used to describe the cumulative physiological wear and tear that results from repeated efforts to adapt to stressors over time. Unlike other psychobiological models of stress that focus on a single outcome variable (e.g., cortisol) or physiological system (e.g., the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal –HPA- axis), the AL model emphasizes multi-system dysregulation. By combining multiple biological risk factors into a composite score, risk for a variety of stress-exacerbated diseases can be assessed in healthy individuals prior to signs and symptoms of clinical disease. Also, use of a composite AL may allow for quantification of stress burden across

Easing Anxiety Through Mindful Breathing

Diane
I suffer from anxiety. And when I say suffer, I mean suffer. It sucks. I have constant baseline low-level anxiety. When I get spooked or ‘triggered’, I can go into full-on meltdown mode, which quickly progresses to ‘freeze mode’ or getting ‘locked up’. I have a few different methods of trying to steer the ship in another direction when it feels like the situation is escalating. The easiest and most reliable of these methods is something I refer to as mindful breathing; or simply, “my breathing” or “my exercises”. Here’s how it’s done: Close your eyes. Take a breath, and

Invitation to Participate in PTSD Drug Trials!

Diane
I’ve been going ’round and ’round in circles in my head over the past few days…and getting nowhere. The results from the brain scans are still sinking in, and have me wondering if it means that I’m going to feel like this forever… I’ve been invited to participate in two drug studies this fall, which should have me excited – and it does in a way – but other ways it has me scared. Again, no meds at all prior to the trial, so I’ll be going through the insomnia/nightmare dance all over again with no option for relief. And

The Long, Miserable Journey Home

Diane
In the quick fifteen minutes it took to get from Yale to the airport I manage to check my phone – and see a message from US Airways: “Your flight has been delayed…” I stare at my phone for a minute letting that sink in. Wait. What? That’s a 50 minute delay, and I only had 40 minutes between flights to begin with. I toss my phone back into my bag, too burnt to process the information. I have ten minutes to breathe before we get to the airport. I’m going to use them. Way too soon we arrive at

Final Prep – Let’s Do This

Diane
11:45AM – I still had almost three hours until my scan was scheduled to begin. I brought out my phone to play a game of Candy Crush, only to discover that one-handed smart phone operation is kind of a pain in the ass. I put it away. I decide instead to lean my head back, rest, and focus on my breathing because I’m starting to feel that familiar knot in my chest, right behind the base of my sternum. Over the next couple of hours Brenda pops in every so often to flush the arterial line and check in on

Arterial Line Time

Diane
Brenda gently yet realistically prepared me for the arterial line placement – it would be uncomfortable, and there would be a good chance that they wouldn’t be able to place it on the first try. They would try up to three times on each arm – with my permission, of course. The insertion area would be numbed with a local anesthetic to minimize pain during insertion; the arterial catheter itself would be about two inches long. Once the line was successfully placed, my arm would be strapped to a splint to keep me from moving it. The anesthetic would wear

Radiation Education

Diane
Unfortunately for the staff, I ask LOTS of questions. 🙂 Here’s what I found out: I would be receiving an infusion of an experimental radioactive compound – also referred to as a radioactive isotope or “radiotracer” that carries a radioactive tag. The radioactive drug would attach itself to a specific protein in my brain; the PET scanner is used to detect where the radioactivity goes – showing exactly where these receptors are located in my brain. The compound is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for marketing, but is allowed to be used for research in humans. The

Prepped for PET

Diane
The waiting area was a small alcove off the main hallway, with three hospital style recliners, small side tables that were covered in magazines and a couple of houseplants that were in dire need of watering. On one wall was an elevator – and the other was one giant window to the outside; we were on the second floor, and I could look down on to the busy street below. Like the MRI center, it was quiet and cool – it had a little more activity, a few people walking back and forth, but for the most part it was

Yale School of Medicine – Let the Scans Begin

Diane
I left the hotel in New Haven by 7:15AM the next day; my MRI was scheduled at the Yale research facility for 8AM. Just as I had to do in New York, I checked out of the hotel and carried my belongings along with me to the research facility. I packed light – but not light enough. A single backpack would have been ideal, because I was never able to settle down in any one place for very long before it was time to move along again. As I entered the building it was empty except for the lone security

The Nauseatingly Long Road to New Haven

Diane
The taxi transporting me from NYC to New Haven was white with pink lettering, and to my relief the driver was a woman. Tall, friendly – “Hi, I’m Renee, nice to meet ya, let’s get ya going here” – with the strongest down-to-earth vibe I think I have ever felt from anybody. I wish I had been more ‘with it’…but on top of being anxious, I started getting carsick on the nearly three-hour journey there. I leaned my head back and breathed while counting…in one, out one…in two, out two…while occasionally thinking to myself “Oh god this lady is so

Brain Imaging Study Day One: NYU

Diane
I was to present at NYU at 9AM sharp. I forced myself to leave my room to get some breakfast before I procrastinated until it was too late to do so…something I do on a very regular basis. I was exhausted and nervous, even more than my own norm. As I checked out of the hotel I wanted to ask the woman at the desk how to get a cab, but was too embarrassed to do so – so I reached back…way back to my Sex in the City addict days, rolled out the front doors to the edge of

NYU – Yale PTSD Brain Imaging Study

Diane
Getting My Head Examined: A Medical Research Study Experience I participated in a brain imaging medical research study with the purpose of imaging the Kappa Opioid Receptors (KOR) of the PTSD-affected brain. The study was conducted by the New York University School of Medicine in collaboration with Yale University School of Medicine; the NYU investigative team was headed up by Dr Alexander Neumeister, Principal Investigator. So here’s the story of how an anxiety-ridden girl went all the way from Phoenix, Arizona to New York City just to have her head examined. If you are interested in participating in clinical research studies pertaining to