Monday, August 17, 2009

On Selling Oneself to Science

during the school year, when i felt too guilty to spend student loan money on playtime, i got this great idea from my roommate regina that i would sell my body...

... to science.

one of the perks of living close to the medical campus is that it usually comes with loads of researchers looking for sick people and healthy people (called controls) with which to compare said sick people. i generally qualify under the "healthy" category, so all i have to do is troll the hallway bulletin boards of basically every building within a 3-block radius for those fliers that have the sideways tabs snipped at the bottom that you can rip off (how do they DO that? someone please tell me the secret!). you try to skip over the $15/hr type ads because those aren't worth your time. i'd say $200+ is the way to go.

during second semester of school, i felt like i hit the jackpot--i signed up for a study that paid me $500 to scan my brain a couple of time and answer a lot of questions that let them know that i don't have OCD, depression, etc. then while i was there, they signed me up for another study that paid me $100 to listen to white noise for 15 minutes with the occasional pop of sound, and then play video games. after the $500 gig though, i had to stop. one of the brain scans, while it included a tasty free lunch (with lemonade!), also threw in an arterial line, which is kind of like an IV line, but instead of angling the needle at a 15 degree angle, it's closer to 90. needless to say (pun SO intended) it wasn't an experience i wanted to repeat, and i decided that future studies, if there were going to be any, were not going to involve needles.

being largely unemployed this summer (who am i kidding? we all know i mean "completely unemployed") i'm not strapped for cash, but i wanted some extra play money beyond what i was getting for selling my and random other textbooks i found in the house (that's an entirely different entry altogether! let me just say that while selling your textbooks is a good idea, selling other people's textbooks is much more lucrative) so i signed up for some more studies.

some of them i didn't qualify for--i don't drink enough, i'm not pregnant, i don't have tourettes or a kid who has tourette's, etc--but for one i did and that is how i found myself in an MRI machine at 9 this morning, strapped in with my fingers taped down into a permanent fist, tracing an arc between two circles with a gross pair of makeshift glasses too close to my eyeball and making me half squint like someone who has some kind of facial nerve damage.

in general i think the take home message i get in addition to the take home pay (!!!!) is that humans, at least to researchers (phd's and md's alike), are nothing more than lab rats. i started to understand a tiny sliver of how patients in the hospital feel when they are helpless and sometimes tied down, unable to move, and told to do things that are uncomfortable by people who clearly have not experienced such discomfort. except i signed up for these experiments and got paid for them. patients don't sign up for liver disease or get paid to have colon cancer. that's why we have actual lab rats.

anyway, to quote the doctor from the simpsons (what's his name? the crazy one european one, not the black one with the great chuckle): "the most rewarding part was when they gave me my money."

No comments:

Post a Comment