Sunday, September 24, 2006

Induced Hypothermia

A talking point amongst the GOP seems to be that we can't discuss the torture "alternative interrogation techniques" that we are using on detainees because would-be terrorists may start training for them. I've never been tortured so I can't describe what it's like. However, my work is such that I've been having to spend hours and hours at 4C (or just above freezing) looking in microscopes. I come prepared, however, and wear several layers of clothing. I use two sets of gloves, head gear to keep my head and ears warm. But I still can tolerate only a couple hours at a time (I'm currently taking a break).

What does it feel like to be at cold temperatures for extended periods of time without the ability to move around to keep warm? Well, my muscles tensed up with my hands and feet feeling as if they were locked in place so that I couldn't even take legible notes. It became harder and harder to breathe normally, with my breathing after an hour or so becoming labored. If you've ever jumped into a really cold lake, you probably remember the feeling that your lungs were going to collapse as you struggled to take short breaths. This wasn't as extreme as that, but it would have been had I stayed there much longer. My face, which was exposed directly to the cold air, had become numb and felt as if tiny knives were pressing against it. After leaving the refrigerated room, not only were my muscles tense and my eyes slightly watering, but even my bones ached. I'm only in my twenties, but I walked as if I were four times older for about ten minutes until I began to warm up to the balminess that is room temperature. I dread having to go back (hopefully I won't have to do this again while in graduate school!).

I sound like a whiny "girlie man", but it got me to think about the torture methods "alternative interrogation technique" of induced hypothermia. How long could one of us last naked in a refrigerated room being occassionally doused with cold water? How long before one of us would crack and admit to taking Stalin's favorite pipe? Imagine your lungs feeling as though they were about to be crushed and think what lies you would tell to stop that excruciating feeling. Imagine your muscles locked in place and your bones feeling like they are going to shatter. Now think about being in this situation based on hearsay, which some in the administration want to accept as evidence.

Welcome to George Bush's and the GOP's America!

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