Twenty

During the summer between my junior and senior years of college (a.k.a. the summer that I was twenty) I had a job working in the physiology research lab.  We were researching the Hibernation Induction Trigger, which is an opioid-like substance that is found in the blood of hibernating animals (woodchucks, bears, etc) that a) is interesting to figure out how it works and b) may have applications in anesthesia, organ transplant and space travel.

Anyhow, we were examining how HIT interacts with certain opioid receptors, and our study tissue was mouse vas deferens.  Yes.  Mouse.  Vas deferens.  We’d get shipments of twenty mice at a time.   (All males, for obvious reasons, and let me tell you that a box filled with twenty male mice, and two days’ urine, and the semi-rotten potatoes they’ve been feeding on during that time, is not a pleasant scent in July.  Or in any other month, really.)  They’d all be named with the same first initial.  G and H were around during my summer, so I fed Gerald and Gilbert and Geronimo daily, then offed them and extracted their vas deferens.  This had to be speedy, as the tissue would die pretty quickly, so I had to go from sacrificing the mouse (yes, that’s the technical term) to prepped tissue in the oxygenated nutrient solution in 10 minutes or less.  At my best, I could do it in under five.

And that’s the story of my summer spent castrating mice.

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