Wet lab PhD and injury

Dodoosin
2 min readMay 19, 2024

--

Hands and fingers are the most important assets of a wet-lab biologist. I injured both my pinkies last month! While playing throwball. Right pinky was dislocated and fractured; Left was a tendon tear. My right pinky was buddy strapped and also had a weird bulge. Because it was had gauze and cotton and I iced it overnight.

All of this meant I couldn’t work in the lab. Just when I had begun experiments in full swing the previous month. I also had some scicomm articles overdue. My first reaction to the injury was ‘Oh no my work is going to be stalled.’ It sounds ridiculous, looking back. I was seriously considering working in the lab with my injuries. But I noticed I dropped many things because I couldn’t grip stuff properly without my pinkies.

So I was forced to take a break from lab work. I had other things on my plate like TAships, writing reports and making presentations, data analysis so I did that stuff as much as I could. And this sounds ridiculous but I thought I was close to finishing my research and writing my thesis. So I started learning Latex, watched videos on Latex PhD thesis, using inkscape for scientific figures etc.

After two weeks off I showed up for a bit again in the lab just to convince my PI that I’m working and not slacking off. I was planning a Singapore family trip later and didn’t want her to miss me for a long time in the lab, so I thought I’d show her my face briefly even if I couldn’t work in the lab. We had a meeting about one of my projects and I realised that a lot of experiments had to be done before we could communicate it! It came as a shock because somehow during my injury vacation I was convinced I could write a thesis with the data I have.

And then she had to leave for Germany and I took the opportunity to go on a family trip to Singapore without telling my PI or my colleagues. The Singapore trip meant time away from research completely. And it made me come to terms with the fact that I have a LOT left to do before finishing my PhD. It even made me excited about some new experiments and techniques I have no background on. Previously, I dreaded them and was finding ways to avoid them, but the vacation changed my mindset about it.

We ran out of liquid nitrogen during this time and my PI came to senses about making sure the lab runs alright. We had an emergency lab meeting just after she got back. I am now back to experimental work, trying to save my cells and make more stocks, and excited about the new things that I’m going to try, and about the writing retreat and presenting at lab meetings after a realllllyyy lonnng time!

--

--

Dodoosin

Poetry and some random words. Grad student trying to document my PhD journey semi-anonymously.