Seasick - getting sick at sea
I'll put up a picture in my next entry, but someone on board ship has started a seasickness poll on the whiteboard in the main lab. Since so many of the science party have fallen ill, the rest of us took it as a bit of an amusement and we began adding our own touches - in particular, the notions of throwing up. Thankfully I don't think that has happened to anyone as of yet, so fingers crossed it stays that way.
Today we were given the grand Jason tour. Tito took us out and introduced us to Jason and Medea (whose name I butchered in a previous blog entry; note to self: fix that). He showed us the cameras, the tethers, the bioboxes and the other science samplers already installed on board. The waters beneath us were choppy and we struggled to keep our balance without falling into the giant ROV.
After introductions were complete, Tito then brought us up to the control van, where computers and keyboards gave us full view of the area around Jason. Some of the cameras were on, giving us a full view of Korey's posterior as he adjusted a fitting on Jason's deck. Tito pointedly ignored the images and instead focused on what the cameras would view if in the water. "This screen shows the brow cam's view, and this one the butt cam." Thankfully, said butt cam was on the rear of Jason (hence its name) and not on Korey, else we mature scientists would have broken out into very mature giggles.
Midway through Tito's introduction of Scott, who would be showing us the ropes of the control van, I began to feel sick. We had hamburger and potatoes for lunch. Potatoes were my favorite food, but sometimes ground hamburger did a number on my stomach and I feared that its time was nearing. To my dismay, I had to rush out of the control van in the middle of Scott's explanation of the video coordinator, which was to be my task on shift.
A while later I entered the main lab, still feeling queasy and unwell. To my horror, rather than the usual dry computer work everyone did on transit, Jeff was actually attempting to show us something. I knew I wasn't going to be able to pay attention. I felt too sick still, as though I were about to drop where I stood. Unfortunately this was rather common for me when it came to certain foods, so I did my best to ignore it and focus on Jeff's explanations.
He was showing us how to make standards to calibrate the sulfide electrode, which would measure low hydrogen sulfide concentrations in whatever samples we took. I honestly remember only bits and pieces of it. We had to do titrations and precise measurements and do some serious pipetting. Once complete, I sank into my chair with a heavy sigh. Sean looked over at me from his computer, a frown creasing his forehead. "You okay?"
I shrugged. "Not really," I mumbled, seriously debating on whether I should go lie down.
Sean answered that for me. "Go rest up before dinner. They're all done, they shouldn't need you too much for the rest of the time."
I took his advice to heart. I gathered up my things and trudged down to my bunk, where I sank down with a groan. I set my alarm for just after dinner began and curled up for a short nap, hoping I felt better afterwards.
Thankfully, by the time dinner rolled around, I was indeed feeling better. I climbed down and headed to the galley, where I gathered a very small plate for my meal. My dinner companions were particularly rambunctious - we all sensed that our destination was close. Some predictions were calling for a dive the next morning if the weather held. I ate my dinner quietly and smiled at the banter being thrown around, particularly from one of the younger crew members.
"So what're you guys looking to pull up?" he mumbled through a mouthful of swordfish (we ate well on board).
I shrugged, noticing that no one else was paying attention. "Gas samples, fluid samples, and lots of archaea and bacteria."
He raised an eyebrow. "You ever see that X-Files episode? The one where they pull something out of the deep sea and it turns around and infects people? It's some sort of silica-based lifeform."
I hadn't seen it, but I knew what he was referring to and couldn't help a grin. "We're not going to start infecting people, if that's what you're asking."
"Nah, but what sort of precautions do you take against that sort of thing? I didn't see you bringing any hazmat suits on board."
I shrugged again, setting my fork down on my plate. "Um... we wear gloves?"
He nodded sagely. "I feel safer than ever," he said, the twinkle in his eye betraying the seriousness of his tone. "Just so you know, if I get sick with some weird deep-sea disease, I'm putting it on you to protect me from those people at NSF who want to cut me up and do experiments on my disease-ridden corpse."
Jessica sat her plate next to him and seated herself with a soft 'thump' on the padded seat. "Do you have a donor card?" she asked sweetly, having overheard the conversation.
Before he realized where this conversation was heading, he nodded. "Yeah, I'm an organ donor, but - " he trailed off as he realized what she meant, and narrowed his eyes at her. "You science people are going to wrap me in cellophane aren't you."
Jessica and I exchanged glances and giggled despite ourselves. "You've donated your body to science. It's too late, you don't get a choice in this matter," I teased. If you come out of this with a weird deep-sea disease, we'll escort you personally to the CDC and perform the experiments ourselves."
"Yeah, who knows what kind of cultures you'll give us!" Jess said, grinning. She was ever the culture-collector. I'm not sure what the exact name for her field was - I'm not a biologist by any means.
The crewmember (I can't remember his name - most of the ship calls people the ever-appropriate 'hey you' until the end of the cruise) sighed and took another bite of his swordfish. "I knew it. I'm doomed. Curse my luck for coming aboard these science ships all the time."
Another crewmember sat his plate down at the table next to us and smiled, having overheard the conversation as well. "Yeah, well, you and your X-files illness would get us all quarantined in port, so try to avoid it. No sense in losing trip time just for the deep-sea sniffles."
We all shared a chuckle and relaxed back in our seats. I decided to risk it and cut myself a tiny slice of apple pie for dessert, the conversation putting a little bit of life back into my step after not feeling well all afternoon. We'd be diving the next day. Might as well keep my energy up.