On day 1, I completed three blood spot tests (before breakfast, after breakfast, and after lunch) and ate two standardized meals with fasting in between.
Blood spot test 1: 8:10am
A few minutes after 8:00 this morning, I prepared to do my first round of blood spot tests for the day. The PREDICT 2 study team had a video for me to watch as well as written instructions for completing the blood spot test (As my formal training was in technical writing, I definitely appreciate well-written instructions and organization. Also, I have to admit I have found three small typos in the study’s hard copy written materials – whoops.).
The blood spot test was quick, easy, and mostly painless. I washed my hands thoroughly and rinsed my left hand with warm water for about 90 seconds. This is to improve blood flow to my fingertips. Standing up at my desk, I used a small tool included in the study packaging to prick my finger and push drops of blood onto four absorbent circles on the blood spot card. To register the completed test in the study app, I took a picture of the blood spot card, scanned the card’s barcode, and recorded the exact time I began pushing the first blood drop onto the card.
Then, I slide the card into a protective sleeve and into an aluminum bag, which would eventually hold all three of my blood spot cards for the day. This aluminum bag contains a desiccant to dry out the blood samples, and I will keep it in the refrigerator until I mail the samples back to the study team on day 4.
Day 1 breakfast: 8:21am
My breakfast for day 1 was two semi-sweet, dense muffins just a bit larger than golf balls and what looked like about one cup of chocolate milk (milk I received from the study pack mixed with brown chocolate powder, also from the study pack). I had to finish the meal in less than 15 minutes and record the exact time I began eating. After I had eaten a few bites of the muffin, I was able to have coffee or tea – plain – and I chose coffee.
I haven’t had chocolate milk in years, and the drink did not taste bad! It wasn’t a lot of liquid, and paired with my regular morning coffee, it wasn’t a burden to finish at all. The muffins were not light and fluffy like some muffins can be, but they were also not bad-tasting. I may not go to the store and pay for the very same muffins, but for study food, I feel like I can’t complain.
After completing the breakfast, I logged all of the food by scanning the packaging and manually recording the coffee I drank. Then, I sat down at my desk, set a timer for two hours, and fasted until my next blood spot test.
Day 1 lunch: 12:21pm
After doing my mid-morning blood spot test (10:21am), I fasted for another 2 hours and had breakfast a little after noon. Lunch was three muffins that tasted and looked identical to the breakfast muffins. No chocolate milk for lunch, though – just a glass of water (still, not sparkling) and eight fluid ounces of coffee (which I logged in the app).
To my surprise, I was satiated after my breakfast and was only just starting to feel hungry when lunchtime came around. I’ll be interested to see how I feel as I fast over the next two hours before my last blood spot test of the day.
Day 1 Reflections
Throughout the day, I received notifications from the study app asking me to rank my hunger and alertness by moving a marker along a line, with the left being not hungry or not alert at all and the right being very hungry or very alert. Like I mentioned, I expected to be more hungry following my breakfast and lunch meals, but I felt full from the lunch for most of the afternoon. It wasn’t until about 5:00pm or so that I started wanting my next meal. For perspective, on a normal day, depending on what I eat for breakfast and lunch, sometimes I’m hungry as early as 3:00pm. If I’m hungry in the afternoon I’m much more likely to have a snack when I get home from work, and most often that snack is something unhealthy like chips or another processed food.
Answering the alertness question was more difficult. I had trouble falling asleep last night and thus woke up this morning feeling less rested than I normally would be after a good night’s rest. I’m not sure if the meals I was given were supposed to make me more or less alert, but I’m hoping that my low-quality sleep won’t affect my results from day 1.
Overall, I think day 1 went pretty well. The meals were tolerable taste-wise and I haven’t felt overly hungry or uncomfortable in between. My biggest complaint is probably of the blood spot tests. My first test went fine; I filled each circle with blood easily. For both the post-breakfast and post-lunch tests though, I had to use a second, spare finger prick device each time to create a second cut on my finger to produce enough blood to fill the four squares. I’m unsure about why my blood flow was so poor for the second two tests, but I’ve got adhesive bandages on my left middle and index fingers, I can type just fine, and all will heal quickly! There is one day in between the two finger spot test days (a purposeful choice by the study team?), so I’ll be ready to do more blood spot tests when day 3 rolls around.
Tomorrow I will be posting a day 2 reflection, but in the days after, I won’t do a study reflection every day as many of the days will be the same after day 3. I’ll continue to post every day about the series, though, including a discussion of the science behind PREDICT 1, PREDICT’s sponsors and collaborators, a reflection on PREDICT 2’s recruitment process, and some other DNA and microbiome tests I’m doing in comparison to / reflection upon my experience with the PREDICT 2 study.