Preparation – PQ’ed

    Preparation, preparation, preparation – this IS the motto of my trip.

    Questions keep pouring in from students, family and friends asking me… ‘What are you doing to get ready for your upcoming adventure?’

    That is an excellent question!

    When you plan a trip to a remote, extreme and potentially dangerous environment – such as Antarctica – there’s plenty that goes into the planning process. In fact, you can’t be over-prepared.

    So, the first thing I was required to do was to get PQ’d – or physically qualified. There were visits to the Doctor, to the Dentist, back to the Doctor, back to the Dentist… you get the picture.

    Here are some highlights of the PQ process.

    Doctor visits

    Now, not many people look forward to a Doctor’s visit – but this time I was excited for my physical. And I have to share… I think my Doctor was even more excited than I was as he commented ‘This is so exciting, I’ve never treated anyone who’s going to Antarctica before.’

    Alex and Dr. Warren
    Thumbs up from Dr. Warren! Things are looking good. See... he even looks excited.


    Bring on the tests
    Blood Pressure - PASS; Oxygen Saturation - PASS. Bring on more tests - I'm ready!

    All of the basic tests were done:

    • Blood pressure – 109/75 (Good BP)

    • Oxygen saturation – 100% (Yea! 100%)

    • Temperature – 98.3 (My temperature usually runs low)

    • Height – 61 ¼ inches (If you convert that to feet – I’m 5 foot 1 and ¼ inches)

    • Weight – 112.8 lbs. (I weigh a bit more than that now)

    Weighing in!
    Alex weighing in - those workouts are evidently helping!

    More tests

    But that was just the start – the real fun was just about to begin. There were:

    • Vision tests

    • Extensive blood work

    • A thorough physical exam

    • A 12 lead EKG – which checked for any problems with the electrical activity of my heart

    • Then there were the shots – TB, Tetanus, Influenza, Pneumococcus, Hepatitis B and C.

    WOW! I felt a bit like a pin cushion but it was well worth it!

    Blood work

    Now this may sound a little strange, but I was most interested in getting the results from my blood work. Why, you ask? Because, Doctors and researchers use blood to assess an animal’s overall health and our science team will be doing a similar procedure with the Weddell seals.

    My blood work tested a number of things: white blood cell count, red blood cell count, platelet, and hemoglobin and hematocrit levels… and many more things. The hemoglobin and hematocrit levels were of special interest to me because our team will be testing the seals hemoglobin and hematocrit levels and I wanted to compare the seals levels to mine.

    These may be new terms for some of you and we will talk about Weddell seal blood in another journal but just in case:

    * Hemoglobin measures the amount of oxygen-carrying protein in the blood.
    * Hematocrit measures the percentage of red blood cells in a given volume of whole blood. 

    I can’t wait to get to Antarctica to begin the comparison!

    Ready for results

    With the testing completed and all the paperwork submitted, it was time to wait for the results. And it didn’t take long. I passed my Medical exam, YEA! Next step… the dentist.