Back in January of this year, New Year’s Eve to be exact I stayed up too late watching TV which is quite odd for me. A commercial came on about a medical study. I was fascinated as I had heard of people doing this, but knew absolutely nothing about it. I checked out their website immediately and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. Oddly enough this facility is located not far from my home. Why did I not know this?
A few weeks later I found myself standing in a huge line around the medical study building for a physical. It was cold out. And the line? It just kept getting longer. I got there 40 minutes early too. They opened the doors at exactly 3 p.m. and the fiasco began. I showed my drivers’ license and was given some paperwork. More lines. We had our blood drawn, our heart listened to, and ECG, a urine test and other vital signs taken. Then they said “Thanks, call us back on this day at this time.” Groovy.
This study was for two weekend stays and it paid $900. How easy is that? Pretty easy I thought. Instead of me calling them they actually called me and let me know I’d passed the physical (half the people there did not pass they needed 56) and they had to change the weekends. I told them no problem I would be there. So the Thursday before check-in they called to say that it had been changed again. No problem, I would be there. Finally the week this was supposed to go down they called me again. This time they called to tell me that the study had been canceled. Ok. Great. This was a waste of my time.
But. I was still hell bent on getting into one of these. Why? I guess because it was something I’d never done before.
They list new studies all the time and I just kept checking to see if I would qualify for one. Finally one opened up. It was a 9-day study (March 8-17) where we would be given a sleeping medication and an anti-depressant. I’ve never taken either one and I figured there were worse things I could do to my liver so what the heck. I tried once again. I had to stand in the line. I had to pass the physical which this time included a breathalyzer. My first one of those ever and I am 45 years old. I passed. I got in. I rearranged my life with the help of wonderful yoga teacher friends and sent my kid to live with her friend for 9-days. There would be 24 people in this study. 7 chicks and 17 dudes got in. What a ratio.
We checked in on March 8 and ate dinner after an all day fast. I was starving. We had to eat all the food they gave us. No problem for me that night. We were on a high carb diet and everything we were given was pretty much, well……yellow. Friday they got us up at like 4:30 a.m. as we were on daylight savings time in this building already. We had blood drawn and were given a sleeping pill. While we were on this drug we had to sit at a table for 4 hours. Oh, but during this 4 hour sit we had our blood drawn every 15 minutes for 2 hours. I assumed they would put a port in our arm because of the 16 blood draws for the day. Nope. They just stick you every single time. Nice. This went on until 7 in the evening. After about the fourth time you don’t even feel it anymore. I am serious. I hate needles but by the end of day I was joyfully watching her suck my life away. I even said thank you when she was done. Was it the drugs? I don’t know.
The other days, Saturday through Thursday, we got up and took an anti-depressant at 7 in the morning. We had to sit upright for 4 hours but not at the table. We could kick back in the recliners, watch one of two movies that were playing, watch TV, or read. After our 4 hours we could sleep, listen to music, visit or whatever else we had brought to do. Sweet. I have never slept so much in my life! I had minimal effects from this medication. The same kind of feeling one might have when taking antibiotics. I met several nice people and found a couple of people I had connections with. Two were former video store customers. One guy knew my neighbor. Another knew a few other yoga teachers. Everything is done on a very strict timeline. When you eat you hold your tray until they record the time and tell you to go. Blood draws and medications are done the same way. I was pretty much fascinated by this whole process and thought that I might just like to work at this place.
The things that were hard for me were eating all of the food. One morning we were given a bagel with cream cheese at 8 a.m. which was great. At 11 a.m. which was lunch we had to down 3 pieces of hand tossed pepperoni pizza and 3 breadsticks without sauce. It was a food fest and without much movement which was hard to stomach at times. We were not allowed coffee, caffiene, fruit or chocolate. But we did have Sprite sometimes and other sodas. I did do a little yoga in the mornings but no strenuous exercise is allowed. I felt like a total sloth as I have never been so inactive in my entire life! Another thing that was hard for me at first was sharing a room with 4 other girls that I didn’t know. This got easier and before I knew it I was sleeping great. I was up by at least 5 each morning and pretty much one of the first out of bed.
On Friday, our last day, we marched to the lab for a blood draw. A bunch of people appeared to watch us dose (drug reps I would assume) and we were given both medications at the same time. We had to once again sit at the table and have our blood drawn on the clock, every 15 minutes. This was a drug interaction study so I was a bit concerned about getting sick, but low and behold, no one did. Most of us agreed that on Friday we felt the best that we’d felt all week long. Perhaps we should’ve scored that drug combo for later use.
I met several people that make a career out of this. I was shocked but they do. One girl had made over $20,000 in one year doing just this. You are not supposed to participate in a study at this place again without 30 days in between studies. A lot of these people travel to other areas and this is all they do. I can’t imagine it, but to each his own. I never imagined myself doing something like this but I am so glad that I did. It was a great study for my first experience and I do hope that in some way I have helped those who may need these medications.
This morning, Saturday, we had a massive blood draw and an exit physical. Then we were free to bolt. The air outside smelled so good (we were not allowed outdoors during the study) and when I got in my car, well, it smelled like a Volvo. I drove straight to the grocery store and bought strawberries and vanilla yogurt, walnuts, oranges and chocolate covered orange sticks. When I got home I sat outside in the sun and enjoyed my purchases and thought about the people I’d just met, where I’d just been and what I’d just done. I also thought about the money that I just made and what I might do with it. Would you do this for $1,600? If so and you have questions, feel free to ask. I feel it was more than totally worth it. I would definitely do it again.
I think I mentioned in an earlier blog post that 2012 would have changes in store for me. So far, I am right on the money. No pun intended.