by syaffolee

Droppin’ Like Flies

I don’t particularly think of people who go into science as being squeamish. Just go to a couple of seminars given by researchers working on infectious disease. There’s almost always a bit of unholy glee when certain clinical pictures come up.

On Friday morning, a research associate and I were training some students on a protocol for processing bovine blood samples. Non-trivial amounts of blood were involved (and it is a non-trivial exercise getting the blood from an animal that could mow you down in a heartbeat–if it was smart enough), but I didn’t think too much about it because, really, it’s just tubes of red stuff. But before we could even get to step two, three-fourths of the students staggered out of the lab on the verge of fainting (the remaining student was too hyped up on coffee to notice anything). You’d think that they had stumbled onto the movie set of some splatterpunk gorefest rather than some fairly routine laboratory procedure.

I dislike looking at gross stuff as much as the next person, but this, I’m not quite understanding. It’s easy to depersonalize (or in this case, debovinize*) because the blood isn’t gushing out of some living thing–it’s in a tube. Or maybe this is just me–I can think of it in the abstract and treat it as nothing special in the large scheme of things–just another component in the big picture experiment. Other people, it’s more like: Arg! Blood! Cue smelling salts.

*If this isn’t already a word yet, I call dibs!