Monday, October 01, 2007

Life - Dope Testing

So today I went to a local lab to get blood and urine samples taken for an upcoming physical. Although there's no particular reason for the physical (other than to get an "good job" from the doctor), I've been more aware of testing procedures recently.

First off, I hate needles.

The nurse at the lab took no pity. Normally I request (and they'll use) a pediatric needle - a needle for little kids. They're so small you can barely see them (one nurse showed me the difference). But this one, she looked at me, scoffed, and whipped out the mother of all needles. I cringed and probably jumped as the lab technician softened her approach.

Okay, I have to admit that the mother of all needles is about an inch long.

Nevertheless, I realized that dope testing would take a lot of commitment by racers - especially yours truly.

(On a related note, I can't imagine jabbing such a thing in my arm voluntarily - epo/'roid injectors and heroin addicts alike).

I didn't look at the needle (I didn't mean to even look at it at all, she just took it out before I could turn away). My veins, normally popping, slunk away, trying to get away from the needle. Mercilessly the tech asked me to make a fist, rubbed a rebellious popping vein, and I closed my eyes and scrunched my face.

There was some sharp pain, a weird sensation, and then, thankfully, that was over.

Then I had to pee in a cup. I was left on my own in the bathroom, peed in a cup, and someone was going to "take care of it" (the cup, not me) and I was to simply leave it in the bathroom.

Man, if this was the dope testing lab no one would have been found guilty of doping. Talk about uncontrolled whatever (the chain of possession term that I forget). I left and I didn't know what happened to that cup. It even had my name on it - what if I was a John Smith? There could have been another John Smith that day.

So it made me realize that dope testing is a bit intrusive in your life. The person making sure the sample really is you is supposed to see you pee in that cup. You can't be left alone to sprinkle laundry detergent in your urine (wipes out testosterone) or whiskey (negates some other test). Not really the most comfortable situation.

Actually, I'd be more comfortable giving blood. You don't have to get naked, it's quick, and the testers are more careful (AIDS, hepatitis, and all those terrible blood borne diseases). The same is sealed from the get go and there's no confusing if someone else tampers with the tube.

In a few days I'll get the results - and perhaps I'll have to "voluntarily" take two weeks off from racing due to a hematocrit over 50%. That's my goal but with a 47.x% last time, I don't know what it takes to get it up to the 49.x% I had a few years ago.

I know that you're not supposed to emulate dopers. But I just think it would be cool to get a 50% 'crit level, just like it would be cool to get pulled over for speeding on a bicycle.

Although the one time I almost got pulled over, it didn't seem like too much fun.

Ah well. Hematocrit doesn't jack up your car insurance rates.

Here's to 50%!


Yokota Fritz said...

I hate needles also, and purposely injecting yourself with huge bags of cows blood and what not -- wow.

Still, these guys get to the point where they're used to it. Same with Diabetics who prick their fingers everyday, they don't even feel it after a while.

Aki said...

I read in something (either LA Conf or Breaking the Chain) about a neopro who was crying on his bed while his teammates were teaching him how to inject or something. Next year he was the one showing the neopros how to do it.

I did a blood lactate test where we used a power trainer and a finger prick test to get blood (and measure something in it using some device). I was a bit unnerved but since it wasn't actually putting stuff into me, I was okay with it.