ChapterÂ 8.Â Blood, Sweat, and Urine
A Very Nerdy Body Swap Comedy
I spent six years working in the statistical modeling team at the UKâs Health and Safety Laboratory. A large part of my job was working with the laboratoryâs chemists, looking at occupational exposure to various nasty substances to see if an industry was adhering to safe limits. The laboratory gets sent tens of thousands of blood and urine samples each year (and sometimes more exotic fluids like sweat or saliva), and has its own team of occupational hygienists who visit companies and collect yet more samples.
The sample collection process is known as âbiological monitoring.â This is because when the occupational hygienists get home and their partners ask âHow was your day?,â âIâve been biological monitoring, darlingâ is more respectable to say than âI spent all day getting welders to wee into a vial.â
In 2010, I was lucky enough to be given a job swap with James, one of the chemists. Jamesâs parlour trick is that, after running many thousands of samples, he can tell the level of creatinine in someoneâs urine with uncanny accuracy, just by looking at it. This skill was only revealed to me after weâd spent an hour playing âguess the creatinine levelâ and James had suggested that âwe make it more interesting.â Iâd lost two packets of fig rolls before I twigged that I was onto a loser.
The principle of the job swap was that I would spend a week in the lab assisting ...