For somebody who whines a lot about ethical problems in the field of life sciences, I sure have surprised myself over the past few months. I never ever thought I would join a lab that had animal work, not even for a rotation. But here I am, after having done a rotation for 8 weeks with rats and mice, moving on to my next rotation, again with rats. And my kill score? Well, so far I haven't killed any all by myself. But I played a major major role in the sacrificing of 10 rats and 12 mice. If you think that's a lot of animals for just a rotation, you should hear some other stories from people in the field!
But for some strange reason, I've been attracted towards a neuroscience world. I had promised myself to stay away from anything glamourous or cliched in the field of life sciences, simply because I wanted to walk on the road less travelled and feel good about being different. I get pissed when somebody asks me what I do and then say, "Oh yeah, everybody is doing that now a days". But somehow, despite it being a glamourous field, I just went towards neuroscience like iron to a magnet! My work in these labs in a nutshell? In the previous lab, I was getting rats addicted to morphine and now in this lab, I deal cocaine to rats. No, I am not turning towards the dark world of drug dealing or doing drugs. Quite the opposite actually. I was studying the effects of addiction on nerve generation in the brain earlier and now I am studying why relapse rates are as high as 90% in cocaine addicts trying to go clean.
Here are some day to day, non-glamourous happenings in a addiction study lab
- I have rats pee and poop all over me every single day
- Evening showers are more meaningful now. I come back smelling like rat poop
- I have rats trying to bite me everyday because they know that I am the girl who takes them away from the cocaine
- I get super annoyed anytime somebody asks me, "so what if a drug addict joins the lab in order to try and steal some cocaine or whatever drugs you have in lab?". Probably I find it frustrating that I don't have a satisfactory answer to that.
- I spend a lot of time cleaning the rat cages each day after the experiments. Maybe I am ready to have a cat or a dog and to clean up after them!
- I don't think I will get a cat or a dog anytime soon because I am too busy taking care of my pet rats in lab. I'm a good master. I keep them happy by dealing drugs to them :-/ :-/
- Its sad to see a rat begging you for more drugs. Yes, rats get addicted too.
- Cocaine addicted rats are violent while morphine addicted rats are just... well... high... interesting difference in drug effects
- I've stopped asking for "coke" in cafeterias. It just seems wrong. I have started asking for "regular coke" instead. Come to think of it, that's also kinda disturbing
All in all, I have a pretty shitty project, in a literal sense, 16 rats pooping on me each day.
And I've never felt so satisfied about my work :D