Saturday, January 08, 2011

That's never happened before....

Those are now the 4 most hated words around for me. Right up there with "we don't have a button for that".

Last night at the end of the day I pulled some vials of cancer cells from our 30L storage liquid nitrogen tanks to grow them up for my MSc and when I went to put the rack back in, it wasn't quite secure...causing 5 racks of tubes to come loose and float in the it couldn't be closed and they couldn't go back in. The only way to fix it (because if you took out any of the other 5 racks to try and put the stuff out that won't go back in in THEM *they* wouldn't go back in either) is to dump out the tank remove the OK boxes in racks and shake out all the loose stuff, reassemble into boxes as it should be put it all back in the tank and then refill it. This is not a huge deal - more of an inconvenience. It happens the odd time. This particular tank holds a bank of cancer tumours cells and research cultures from many years of work (including my MSc) and was invaluable. If they all thawed out they would be ruined. I could be fired. Grants would be lost. Years of research (and months of my MSc) would be reduced to ash.

Fucksticks indeed.

So, yeah. Needless to say I had to fix it. The usual way to do this only only takes about 5 minutes, and then you refill the tank again from our 100L nitrogen tank in the loading dock. It's subzero so I can leave the boxes outside for the few moments they are in the air. The problem was....when I went to refill my tank from the big tank, it only had 8L in it. GAH! So the samples were only OK in the tank for a few hours.
At 5:30 on a friday I had to find a way to get 30 L of liquid nitrogen delivered to me. Heh. Yeah.
Of course the place we get it from was closed for the weekend and ALL of their after hours and emergency contacts didn't work. I call everyone I could think of from work who might know of where to get some here on luck. Finally I called, in desperation, the other company in the city who supplies the hospitals with gases and after a bit of wrangling with purchasing managed to convince them they could come help me. As my luck would have it, THEIR evening delivery truck was already out on a delivery. So (because they rock) they in the goodness of their hearts came to me with a pickup, took MY tank to their facility and filled it up and brought it back to me in an hour. Sure they're charging for late night delivery, but I don't care. I fixed it. I'd pay them myself if I had to. Averted utter disaster. I think. ~2.5 hours after it all began it was over.

Then when I tried to call J to pick me up (who was initially waiting in the car for me but went home) our home phone didn't work. We finally hooked up by email and by 9PM I was at home devouring a BLT sub and trying to unwind. But after all that...I couldn't really. I was mentally exhausted....done. After food we just chilled and went to sleep. NOT the nice evening together we had planned at all, but it was what it was.

I think I saved the day. Nothing thawed. I'm culturing up some cell lines monday just to check...but man. What an evening. I'm making up emergency protocols...because this situation has never happened before on campus. Lucky me. And it won't happen again to anyone else either. I will make it so. Because it was not fun...

And (joy) I am back in the lab today on a saturday scanning slides on the VM scanner for my MSc now that it has been repaired. I had problems with it at first as well, but finally I am getting things done. Being a good little scientist. Not really amused with it after last night, but it's getting done...

Thankfully Dad flies back from visiting my sister today so I'm going to meet him at the airport with my brother and spend the evening with him before he goes home. Poor J has to work all day so I'm just trying to get stuff done. Tomorrow hopefully we can hide from the world and have the date we planned for yesterday. The tightly coiled spring in my brain may have actually unwound by then.
Maybe. Here's hoping.

Good god. What a way to start off a weekend. :P


Captain Chlorophyll said...

You are absolutely brilliant for drafting the emergency protocols in case it ever happens again!

Anonymous said...

Saved by the skin of your teeth. :-) I hate it when things go bad just when you were about to pack up and retire with a relaxing drink.