Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s basketball falters in the second half, falling to George Washington 83-67 Thursday -

February 24, 2017

UPDATE: SGA announces second and third artist for ‘Mullins Live!’ -

February 23, 2017

Divest UMass and STPEC host panel on building ‘solidarity economies’ in the Trump era -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball losing streak extends to 10 games after loss to URI -

February 23, 2017

Sixth annual Advocacy Day set to take place March 1 -

February 23, 2017

Panel discusses racial, sexual and psychological violence in response to art exhibit -

February 23, 2017

Judy Dixon enters final season with UMass tennis with simple message: One match at a time -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball enduring early-season limitation in playing in New England -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen softball begins season with cross-country travel, string of tournaments -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball looks to bounce back from disappointing 2016 season -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior defenders accept leadership roles in quest for ninth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship -

February 23, 2017

Kelsey McGovern rejoins UMass women’s lacrosse as an assistant coach after starring for Minutewomen -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to continue improving throughout 2017 season -

February 23, 2017

Spring Sports Special Issue 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defense relying on senior leadership with new faces in starting lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball fills holes left by seniors with freshmen for 2017 -

February 23, 2017

The Hart of the Lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball prepares for a long, busy season in 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defenseman Tyler Weeks makes his way back from ACL injury -

February 23, 2017

Less than one percent

I’ve signed so many waivers in my life that I don’t even think about them anymore.

Yes, there is a chance I can get injured during this activity. Yes, I understand that I will not hold anyone else liable. Yes, I realize that I am taking a risk.

That’s the thing about risks: You never think it will happen to you … until it does.

When I signed up to be a guinea pig in a medical study run by a department laboratory here at the University of Massachusetts, I had no idea that it would indeed be a costly decision. I read about the procedure and knew it would be uncomfortable for my legs, but I figured I could suck up the pain for the $450 the study promised.

I planned on spending the money to cover the cost of a trip to Florida I was going to take with my girlfriend over spring break. Instead, I spent the week on my living room couch.

The muscle procedure I took part in caused a complication in my left leg – a hematoma in my thigh. Basically, the muscle started bleeding, which caused swelling and pressure in my leg, which led to pain. I was taken to Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton the Monday before spring break, and remained there until Thursday.

It could have been worse. The bleeding in my leg could have been so extreme that the blood could have gotten into the area around the muscles, causing compartment syndrome. Had this occurred, I would need surgery to relieve the pressure. The procedure would have been to essentially save my leg.

Luckily, it did not get to that point. There was no permanent damage to my kidneys, as they also feared. The pain has now subsided, but I can’t bend my leg for too long without it starting to irritate me. I have been ordered to use crutches for a few weeks to keep weight off of my leg.

My leg will heal, and within a few months, life will return to normal. But that doesn’t stop me from saying to myself: What the heck was I thinking? Even more concerning is reflecting on my time at Cooley Dickinson Hospital: a 60-hour stay hooked up to an IV and confined to a bed the whole time. Was all of this really worth $450? To quote Saturday Night Live: “Really, Chris? Really?”

The coordinators of the study felt terrible and made hospital visits and regular telephone calls to make sure I was alright. Seeing as every other subject in the study was completely fine, I’m more likely to believe that it was just my dumb luck that caused this than a mistake on their part. The surgeon in the study said the likelihood of what happened to me was less than one percent.

My intention here is not to discourage participation in these studies. Without medical research like the projects this lab does, science wouldn’t progress. The reason scientists have made the advancements they have is due in part to experiments and test subjects.

But would I personally do one of these again? No. I think my girlfriend, my friends and my family would kill me.

It’s discouraging to be confined to a bed for most of the day and to not have full use of my leg. It’s frustrating to have difficulty doing simple tasks, such as walking around campus or getting food at the dining hall.

But the hardest part for me is the knowledge that this may change how I go about living my life. Going into this study, I had no fear of the risks involved. I ignored my friends’ and family’s words of caution against it, naively believing that nothing could happen to me.

Before this happened, if someone offered me a free ticket to go skydiving, I probably would have taken it. Rock climbing on a mountain cliff? Sure, why not?

Now, I’m not so confident that I’d run to do these things. I certainly don’t want to live my life in a bubble and never do anything challenging or exciting, but if my body reacted in the rarest and most unlikely way to this study, what are the chances my parachute will fail or my harness will break?

The chances of that happening are probably unlikely, but so is being struck by lightning twice, and that happens to people.

In the end, it just comes down to taking a risk. It would be a boring world if everyone played it completely safe, and I know for sure that I’ll take a lot more before my life is done. But the next time I sign a waiver, I’m not going to do it so casually. I’m going to remember the time I chilled in Cooley Dickinson for three days with my left leg twice the size of my right. I’m going to consider: Is this risk really worth it?

Chris Shores is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at cshores@student.umass.edu.

Comments
6 Responses to “Less than one percent”
  1. Rob says:

    Wow, I’ve been thinking about participating in that study. I’m probably still going to try, because as you said it’s so rare that it happened. But it’s amazing that the things truly do happen.

  2. The Advocate says:

    While your words ring true, why not take risks in life? Tomorrow a meteor could hit the Earth, would you rather spend your last day contemplating a 1/1000 chance or spend time living it up and going on adventures?

  3. Rob says:

    Advocate, I know he realizes that as he says it. He’s just saying that he’s going to be thinking more about what he signs off on and what he does, as should everyone. After a car accident or a traffic violation, people tend to drive a lot more carefully. It’s human nature.

  4. anonymous says:

    I participated in a study – no compensation – and I never really recovered….

    There are some serious ethical issues with these people….

  5. Awesome. Thanks for putting up this. It is always great to see someone educate the community.

  6. I’m really inspired with your writing talents as neatly as with the structure in your weblog. Is this a paid topic or did you modify it your self? Either way keep up the nice high quality writing, it is uncommon to peer a great blog like this one today..

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