When I was in college, there were times when money was more than tight, it was nonexistent. To drum up extra cash after I had pawned CD's and sold anything that wasn't nailed down, I applied to be a guinea pig for the local skin study.

There were lines of little old ladies in white coats sitting in front of folding tables like the ones to eat at in a church's basement . In front of them were trays filled with bits of gauze with tape on one side. Sharpie markers indicated the first six letters of the alphabet.

Down my back in rows, there were twelve white square dots of puffy gauze that I was not to get wet, not to remove, for a week until they were inspected, removed with rubber gloves and replaced with duplicates of the same chemicals. Lotions and creams, mostly. They paid me $70.

It didn't take long before my boyfriend at the time offered to pay me what the study was if it meant I would stop. He said it reminded him too much of a hospital , but I'm sure it was something worse .

There are situations when being a medical guinea pig can be a really good opportunity. People who already have and are taking medication for various diseases and conditions are prime for finding a really good medical study to take part in. Asthmatics, for example.

I suffer from exercise and allergen induced asthma, as well as intrinsic asthma. It's very severe, and I need to take 3 separate drugs besides my rescue inhaler to keep it in check. When I was in high school, I had the chance to take part in a medical study that payed me about five hundred USD total. The pay wasn't half bad, it was the perks that proved really helpful.

Once a week for two months, I got up early and drove to the doctor's office to blow into a little tube. I kept records detailing exactly how often I used my inhaler each day, any additional medications I took (such as aspirin), what my lung function was in the morning and at night, and any physical problems -- a cough, a sneeze, a pain in my right leg. I turned these records in each week.

For that effort, I received an enormous red pill to take each week. It was either a placebo or genuine medicine, I still do not know. I also received free inhalers and an antihistamine to settle my allergies. The cost of medication that I saved probably totaled over a hundred dollars. In addition, being forced to keep meticulous, almost anal track of my physical condition made me very aware of my asthma and what triggered it. I was able to cut down on my previously needless, almost compulsive inhaler use.

So if you have a medical condition, please consider looking into some ongoing studies. You might find a really sweet deal, and learn some more about yourself and your body while you're at it.

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