As the saying goes, money makes the world go round. As a student then, my world tends to find spinning really difficult. In my last few years of medical school, the student loan people decided what would be really fun would be to decrease my income by a third. Thankfully my parents have been amazing and have helped me through any difficult times I’ve had, as they’ve done so the whole way through my degree.
What also helps is the fact that I’m phenomenally cheap. I’m a big fan of Sainsbury’s basics pasta, and firmly believe that pasta and sauce from a jar forms a great basis of a well-balanced diet. Who needs meat or vegetables anyway. This has meant I’ve managed to reach final year without actually touching my student overdraft- a feat I’m pretty proud of, considering some people max it out in about a month of starting university.
But inevitably, fun things happen and you want to go to them, or friends want to celebrate being born, or a new Chinese restaurant opens up and is serving dumplings and it’s the best place in the whole world and the food tastes like heaven (if heaven were made out of soy sauce that is). So over the past few years I’ve come up with a good solution to help find more money: selling my body to science. A university is a great place for research to be taking place, and so all you have to do is know the places to look for researchers searching for “Healthy non-smoking males aged 18-25”
The studies I’ve done have ranged from the tedious (questionnaires on impulsivity), the cushy (having my brainwaves measured while I fall asleep in a soundproof room) to the downright bizarre (having my reaction time measured when I see photos of people holding up poo-stained underwear). Yes, that last one was real. There have also been a few great ones where people are running training courses for doctors and are looking for volunteers to act as patients or models of ‘healthy anatomy’.
Over the years then I’ve just about every investigation under the sun, whether it’s 24 hour ECGs, a DEXA scan, ultrasound scans of my abdomen/heart/lungs/arms/legs/neck, an EEG, blood tests for just about everything and 24 hour urine collection (that last one was fun). It’s a hypochondriac’s dream really. The only one I have left to tick off is an MRI of my brain- being left-handed, I’m often excluded from these studies as my brain might be “the wrong way round”. But I’m comforted by the knowledge that everything else in my body looks completely healthy, and also by the cheques and bank transfers that semi-regularly make their way to my bank account.
The whole thing has thankfully meant that as I approach the end of my student days, I don’t need to worry about having debt of £1000, and can instead enjoy myself until I reach The Real World and start getting a salary.
… At which point I’ll instead get to worry about my debts of £30,000- now that’ll be fun. I wonder what I’ll have to do to pay that off.