How I spent my weekend, or Matt's adventures as a guinea pig.

I have been recently prevailed upon by the precarious position of my bankbook into participating into a clinical research trial. My first series of tests was this weekend. Here is a blow-by-blow description.

I did not drink coffee, eat chocolate, or do anything else caffeine-related starting Thursday morning. When on Friday I arrived, severely sleep-deprived, at the facility way out in the boonies (i.e. the St-Laurent industrial park, 45 minutes from my house by bus and metro), it was as a “standby”, in case one of the 44 men who were originally slated to participate cancelled or was cancelled.

My possessions were searched, to be sure I wasn’t smuggling in any dangerous substances such as M&M’s that could queer the results. I wasn’t, but a couple of herbal amulets in my backpack narrowly escaped unwitting destruction before I could convince the doctor that they were religious artifacts and not to be messed with. I then had to sit for three-and-a-half hours, during which time I finished one of my books (Better Living: The Pursuit of Happiness from Plato to Prozac), by Mark Kingswell), before getting called up for screening. I had been chosen to replace someone who had cancelled - just in time; I was now #43 out of 44. I signed some forms, then got screened and bebraceletted with that number. I was then dispatched to pee in a cup (finally, since by this time I was bursting) and get three vials of blood drawn from me. We then got dinner, and hung around for a while before being dispatched to bed.

We were rudely awoken at 4:30 (!) the next morning, and propelled grumbling to the main room where we had to sit for another two hours (!), during which I finished Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Copeland. We were required to drink a large amount of water, and then given a small, pink, diamond-shaped pill, which we washed down with another large drink of water. After having my mouth probed to make sure I had swallowed the thing, I then had to sit at a table. Without getting up. For four hours. Every half an hour or so, a nurse came around to each of us in turn and jabbed us in the elbow. A nurse told me at one point that I had nice veins. I chatted with my tablemates, did some proofreading, and generally sat around.

At one point during the morning, I started to feel dizzy. An enormous green padded chair was wheeled out into the centre of the room and I was put in it until I felt better.

Worse was to come, though; the last blood draw in the morning absolutely killed (I think they hit a nerve). Consequently, after lunch and before my next blood draw, I started to feel as though my heart were racing, I felt anxiety, and I had trouble breathing. I was put into the Big Green Chair again, and one nurse took my blood pressure on one arm while another took my scheduled blood draw from another (!) I was then rolled into the infirmary and put onto an exam table, where some nurses rubbed me with jelly and stuck suckers onto my chest and ankles, which they used to take an EKG. (No joke.) Anyway, it came out normal, the doctor informed me that I had suffered a panic attack due to the pain of the earlier blood draw and the fact that it was my first study, and I was permitted to lie in the dark for a while until I felt better again.

Anyway, after that it was OK. The food was quite decent, and mostly I just sat around reading (I also finished The Common Good by Noam Chomsky), listening to music, or playing video or board games with some other folks. I made the acquaintance of two Richards, and an Ivan, quite pleasant characters. There were two more blood draws on Sunday, and then we were allowed to go, $40 richer. The total value of the study is $1000, which will be remitted us once it is finished.

I had to go back this morning and will have to tonight and tomorrow morning, for what are called “follow-ups” (more blood draws). Then we repeat the same procedure in two weeks, and then I’ve got my $1000, which will restore some colour to my bank account’s cheeks.

I had lots of time to think, and I came to three conclusions:

  1. This study isn’t so bad, but if it came to the study Ivan told me about - $800 for 900 mL of blood (!!) - I’d rather suck cocks for quarters.

  2. Speaking of which, I find it interesting that MDS will pay $1000 for what, being a fag, I couldn’t give to Hema-Quebec for free.

  3. Finally, in exchange for a sum of money, a corporation got me to radically alter my lifestyle, wake up at obscene hours, sit around a building with lots of people I don’t know, and get my blood sucked out of me by people addressing me with “tu” instead of “vous”. Essentially, an entire corporate career compressed into a weekend.

I’ve always wondered how these things went! I’ve thought about volunteering for studies but they always seem to bite into my work time (at least the follow-ups do). As soon as I find one that works around my schedule I’ll do it.
I have no fear of needles and wouldn’t mind getting paid a pretty penny for sitting around all weekend and reading.

And I was laughing out loud at this observation:

Tev: the follow ups are usually before and after work time, and it’s not all that difficult to get a study during the weekend.

I had to do a few studies while I was in a Physcology class in college. The first study was with white noise. They same in front of a speaker emmiting white noise and had me distinguish between noises and sounds in front of me. Because I’m hearing impaired they did this to understand conduction deafness and how backround noise effect it.

The second stufy was more intresting. It was a virtual reality study. They were studying the results of prolonged exposure to virtual reality devices. I had to do a virtual reality simulation and games for six hours while they tried to determine adverse effects.

I threw up.

Over and over again.

I couldn’t stop.

My whole world kept spinning.

Guess I’m not buying a virtual rreality headset any time soon…:smiley:

Or a spellchecker…

ducks and runs


yeah, yeah… Everyone here knows I can’t type correctly. I have to typ fast since I’m at work.

damn! I still spelled my post wrong. And I double checked it.

Sorry, I read the title as “How I spent my weekend, or Matt’s adventures with a guinea pig” and all I could think was how stretched out you’ve gotten at such a tender age if you had to move up from gerbils.

[ducks and runs]

As well you should.

Says matt

Would that have been a shaved guinea pig?

Guy goes into a repair shop with a typewriter (this is old school, one of the manual ones), saying “Pvpry timp I strikp thp lpttpr ‘p’ I get an ‘e’!”

[crickets chirping]

matt, did you do the testing for the company that’s been posting ads in buses?

I sure wouldn’t mind the money either, but I’d be too afraid to take non-tested drugs.

I’m participating in a study tomorrow…I get to be injected with stuff and have an MRI, I guess they’re testing a new way of injecting the MRI stuff. 100 bucks for about an hour of my time, not too shabby.

I’m doing another study in April, which is a bit more involved and pays 1000 dollars. I have to take a new painkiller for 9 days, and on the second day, I get to have a colonic barostat, i.e., they jam a tube up my ass and I watch TV or read or nap in a bed for 4 hours. A couple days later, I get to do a transit study, where I come in at 6:00 a.m., they feed me irradiated eggs and I have to stand in front of a camera for five minutes, go do whatever for an hour, then I come back for another five minute scan, and repeat until like 5:00. There are also a few satiety tests, blood draws, etc.

I was a bit worried about how uncomfortable having a tube shoved in my colon will be, but I’ve been assured that it’s a small tube, the same that they use for a flexible sigmoidoscopy, which I have experienced, and it wasn’t too horribly uncomfortable, so…hey, 1000 bucks!

Yea, that’s the one. And from what I understand, the drugs have already been tested; in fact, the one whose study I’m participating in is already available in Canada. It’s being tested to make it available in Europe.