The research nurse seemed to like it when I faded in and out, dozing peacefully but staying partially conscious.

That's exactly what was needed for a study of metabolism that included some sort of plastic hood placed around my head.

Not everyone can handle something like that.

But there are many other options.

For fitness lovers, you can offer to join an exercise study of some sort. When I did that, it left me with the oddest of chests, because they only shave the spots where electrodes monitor your heart.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Next physician I went to kindly didn't ask why I had a few oddly bare spots.

For digestion, I've eaten radioactive eggs and milk.

They're not as bad as they sound. Actually, they tasted pretty good. The amount of radiation was like standing next to a microwave while you wait for a TV dinner to cook.

From this, I learned how incredibly long it takes for sugar to get from food into my bloodstream and how long food continues digesting (three hours or so, in my case).

I've been fed an odd salmon-colored jelly while wearing a bib as an adult volunteer (I'm not kidding) — and by fed, I mean a researcher spoon-feeds you. It's an awkward feeling.

That was because each arm was occupied at the time (one in a "hot box" to keep my veins warm and prepped for blood draws and the other attached to multiple IVs).

I've had a researcher goad me to do better while I played some sort of Mario video game — "watch out, you're going to hit that car!" — in a study of stress and how it affects blood sugar (mine seemed to rise).

You can walk on a treadmill for hours on end, stay overnight in a hotel (while a bunch of researchers hover over a video monitor, or even right there in the room).

There are so many things you can do to help move medical knowledge forward, either in Rochester or around the globe.

Go to clinicaltrials.govand you'll find a wealth of research-study information.

You can search on there for Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center or keywords for medical conditions.

You'll learn. Scientists will learn. And both of those things are important.