Update on selling my body to science

I quit the study.  First of all, staying at a Best Western when you are in the town you live in and having a free night at a Hilton are wildly different things so the night started out pretty meh.  The room won points because it had a flat screen TV and a mini fridge, and then lost so many points because they didn’t work and no one was answering the phone at the front desk.

Second of all, I got up at 5:30 am, headed out at 6 am, and never made it to work until 10 am.  I feel like the amount of time it would eat into my day was grossly misrepresented.

The bike ride was great (except for almost being hit in the bike lane by a lady who just wasn’t paying any attention and swerved into my lane 3 feet in front of me.  Then she refused to look at me so I pulled up next to her window and stared at the light) and it got me back on my bike, but all of the health tests and the ride TOOK SO LONG.  Then I had to go back after 5 pm and wasn’t home until after 6 pm.  That part I knew about so I’m not complaining too much.

Also, if you’re going to draw my blood three times in a day, be able to do it from my elbow veins.  First blood draw, no sweat because I said, “You’ll need to draw from my right arm–my left arm is impossible and will leave us both feeling terrible.”  Second blood draw after the bike ride–Oh. Dear. Lord.  My one good vein collapsed because they were drawing an hour after the first draw, which the phlebotomist said wasn’t going to work.  Then the post-doc supervising the health tests wanted her to DRAW FROM MY HAND.  NO THANKS, LADY.  I didn’t sign up to look like a heroin addict with track marks and bruises around everything that could be a vein.  Thankfully, the phlebotomist said she wouldn’t draw from anywhere but crook of the elbow if it wasn’t absolutely medically necessary.  The third blood draw took some digging around in the same sad vein at the end of the day, but she finally got enough blood to fill the tube.

After all of the tests, wearing a backpack that mysteriously gained about 10 lbs for the actual commute day from the day before, and then having the longest day ever after the worst hotel stay, I decided I was too exhausted and it took up too much of my time to be worth the $80 each day.  I took my money for the first day and ran.  If I wasn’t in the middle of conference planning chaos, I probably would have stuck it out, but right now getting quality sleep and maximizing my hours at work are top of the priority list.


Selling my body to science

As I write this, I am wearing a heart rate monitor and a backpack that is measuring the different types of pollution that I face during a day, including air and noise pollution.  I will stay in a free hotel room tonight with the backpack by my head.  Then tomorrow morning, I will undergo some health tests, ride my back on a set route through Fort Collins’s trail system, go to work, and do another set of health tests at the end of the day.  I stand to make around $80 for this.  If I complete four sets of these days and show up on time to everything, I will have nearly $500 more in my pocket.  That is very nearly a washing machine, people!

We are lucky that we have a top-tier research university here because research means getting paid to participate in studies.  I started participating in any study I could qualify for in my undergrad at the University of Wyoming.  Over the last decade (uh, wut? ), I have taken a math test, taste tested potatoes, rated milk cartons for how healthful they’ve appeared, participated in a “candy bar auction,” and other strange activities in the name of science and extra cash.

The social scientist in me wants to help out my fellow scientists who know the pain of finding subjects.  The cheapo in me wants extra money.  Participating in studies is a win/win.  Most studies are funded by grants that enable the researchers to pay subjects for their involvement so I am providing a service that is critical to the research, not costing the actual researcher anything, and sometimes helping them graduate or publish.  Most pay a pretty nominal amount, like the $10 I made from taking a 15 minute math test on a computer.  This was a psychology experiment and I honestly don’t even know or care what they were actually researching.  I made $30 for the potato study, which was awesome for 2 hours on a Saturday morning.  I have also done So. Many. Focus. Groups., and some of them were only for pizza (I was a student and entirely pizza-motivated), but others were for $50 Visa gift cards or cash.  This current study requires more of a commitment, is more intrusive on my life, and requires blood draws, so that’s why it pays substantially more.

To find out about studies that are recruiting, mostly I just read.  I read the student paper classifieds, the email bulletin the university sends out each morning, signs in hallways and on bulletin boards, and every email that comes my way.  Then I respond QUICKLY.  You never know when a study will fill up.  I email or call as soon as I figure out if I qualify.  Lots of studies don’t even have any qualifications other than you want to participate and you are an adult.  I also answer truthfully.  I have been turned down from participating in studies quite a bit.  One time, I fit all the qualifications but part of the reward was new workout clothes that you had to wear during the study and they only had size L.

I do have an advantage because I am already located on campus and am exposed to more recruiting messages, but for those who aren’t in a university community, if you live in a town with a university, like CSU in Fort Collins, read the student newspaper and check out the university’s website.  Ask friends who are involved with the university to keep an eye out for you.  The opportunities are endless, you’ll probably get some cash or something free, and the experience is often a pretty good story to tell your friends.  And you’ll probably get some cash to help build an emergency fund, pay off some debt, or help you buy a beer or pizza.