New Drugs And Needles: What It’s Like To Be A Human Guinea-Pig

For the last five years I have taken part in Clinical Research Trials – pharmaceutical drug studies where people test medicines being developed in exchange for money. Here I explore the rather strange idea of what it is to be a human guinea-pig.


It’s day ten in the guinea-pig house and my eyes are slowly becoming squared as I incessantly watch old repeats of The Chase while eating my designated lunch: two bread rolls filled with salad and tuna accompanied with a bag of crisps, a banana and a decaffeinated coffee. My eyes move to the large digital clock on the wall which continues to taunt me as it ticks by slowly. The time is 12.45pm and in five minutes I will report back to my bed to undergo this afternoon’s health examination – a regimented procedure that involves my blood being sucked out through a cannula, my urine being collected, an ECG test, and a general discussion with the resident doctor to ensure that I haven’t grown a third hand, contracted the plague or developed elephantiasis.

You know when I first signed up as a volunteer to test the latest pharmaceutical medicines, I thought it would just be a one or two-time thing during university – a quick fix to get some much-needed beer money at the expense of taking a few harmless, unknown drugs. But that was over five years ago now. With this latest clinical trial (an eighteen day stay involving me being one of the first human-beings to take some pills designed to treat ‘non-alcoholic fatty liver disease’), I am now on trial number ten and well and truly climbing the career ladder of the human guinea-pig industry – a competitive sector where anyone can succeed as long as they don’t smoke, aren’t morbidly obese, and don’t mind being stabbed with a needle four times a day by an unqualified nurse.

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the workplace office

Just in case you aren’t too familiar with what a ‘medical trial’ actually is, it’s essentially an experiment which involves regular, healthy people taking a new drug that is being developed by a pharmaceutical company to ensure that it doesn’t kill or paralyse you before it can be judged safe for legal consumption. Usually volunteers are enclosed in a private clinic for the duration of the study where they consume the drug and hand over their bodies on the pursuit of the most ubiquitous medicine out there: money. Think of it as a more vivid realisation of the modern-day corporate workplace – a place where people go to have their blood sucked dry while selling their time, mind, body and soul to a multi-million-pound company for the payment of a financial fee. Not such a foreign concept now, right?

Speaking of money, on this particular trial I will be ‘reimbursed’ £2580 for seventeen nights of hard labour – a solid amount, but not quite as much the last one I did testing a treatment for a white blood cell disease called ‘Neutropenia’ which paid a grand total of £2980. Yes, you heard right; that’s three grand to take some pills and spend the working day lying in a bed, playing pool, watching old movies, having food brought to you and writing this introspective article while I question my sanity and wonder whether I – ‘subject number 001’ – am still a normal, civilised member of society.

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‘subject number 001’ himself

Of course I am, right? This is just a normal job like any other I convince myself while staring at my fellow guinea-pigs wired up to an ECG device while having their blood sucked into a container. Take the middle-aged firefighter snoring on the bed beside mine – he has regularly been doing three trials a year to gather some extra holiday funds. Or take the scary-looking guy staring at me from across the ward – a long-haired elderly man who curses and shouts to himself at night while on his computer. Yep, normal people in a normal
profession just making an honest buck to try and get by in this world.

“But what about your health? Isn’t it dangerous? What if you die?”

Naturally there are always the questions and concerns from family and friends when you tell them you’re off to go test the latest drug being developed to try and cure Crohn’s disease or something, but this is expected from those who are uninitiated with the technical ways of the human guinea-pig industry.

Like I assure my parents, I aim to partake in trials where the drug being trialled has at least been taken by other humans before. However, like most people, my eyes are more fixated on the fee involved – a tax-less exchange of money which has now, for the tenth time, helped contribute and fund a hedonistic lifestyle of world-wide travel and partying (my last trial paid for a two month adventure in Central America). They do mention something about an ‘ethics council’ being involved which – along with meeting seasoned guinea-pigs who have tested drugs for twenty years – is good enough to give me professional peace of mind while I sleep and laze around.

It’s not all lying around and getting paid to watch daytime television though

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battle scars

there are downsides too. For example: the lack of natural daylight; having to eat at designated times; sharing a room with other ‘subjects’; and, of course, potentially dying. I guess it’s also a bit awkward when people ask you “what you are doing now” and they stand there expecting a generic answer about some 9-5 office job, but you instead have to inform them that you are pimping yourself out for money in a brothel of medicinal research. The usual return look is either one of terror or bewitched curiosity. Either way, you are immediately placed on the back-foot trying to justify your way of life to the other person and, perhaps subconsciously, yourself.

But the madness of being a human guinea-pig is a necessary madness I tell myself. For if it wasn’t for heroic test subjects like myself and my colleagues, then how would these pharmaceutical companies commission a new antibiotic? How would we work closer to curing Crohn’s disease and Neutropenia? How would people like me actually contribute toward society? If you excuse the conspiracy theorists for a second and pretend all drugs being developed are to cure illnesses and make the world a better place, then I guess you can sort of see guinea-pigs like me as real-life superheroes – shadowy figures selflessly laying ourselves down and bearing the brunt of unknown drugs and their side effects in the quest to make the world a healthier place.

Yes, as the nurse comes around and hooks me up to the blood pressure machine while sucking blood out through my cannula like water from a tap, this is the philosophy I am gonna delude myself with I decide. Whether in a farm of an office, we all have our place in the world; and for me this is where I fit into the capitalist machine of society – lying in a hospital bed in a private clinic as I step forward into the light and engage in battle against the evil villains of fatty liver disease and the common cold. Sure, some people punch numbers in a computer, some teach, some stack shelves, some fix cars – but me? I am a Guinea-Pig Man – the hero the world needs, but perhaps not the one it deserves.
Anyway, time for me to go piss into container and watch The Chase for the third time today..

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Closed Curtains, Closed Mind – The Dangers of Sedentary Living

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A fish out of water; a classic car rusting in a garage; a bird in a cage.

Some things in this world just simply aren’t meant to exist in certain environments. Disregarding the qualities that makes them such wonders of life, art and magnificence, it makes our heart ache when we witness such beings go to waste during their precious and powerful moments here in the universe. Contained wonder; contained raw power – a true travesty of existence that leaves most compassionate people with a sense of melancholy when witnessing such unnatural sights as a fish flapping helplessly on sand, or a bird hesitating to spread its wings because of the metal bars three inches in front of its beak. These things do not belong in said environments, we tell ourselves – in is not natural, and it is not just. But in looking at these things and concluding such thoughts, sometimes we need to look in the mirror, look back upon the reflection and ask: what about humans? What about ourselves?

Of all the creatures on planet earth, we are by far the most complex and intellectually powerful. With the tool-set to explore, interact, construct and create, me and you have the dexterity and intelligence to build skyscrapers and climb to the top of mountains; we have the utter depth of language to connect with people from all around the world and go on journeys, start adventures, live dreams, share knowledge and discuss complex ideas. No other being can even get remotely close to the level of communication me and you have right now in the writing, reading and understanding of these words and sentences. In human history our kind has culminated such physical, linguistic and intellectual excellence to sail around the world, write novels, build satellites, fly into space, climb the tallest mountains, run the longest races and break the unbreakable records.

But as majestic and advanced as we are, we are not invincible and – just like the aforementioned creatures – we are also vulnerable and at risk when we are to enter unnatural environments; ironically one which is self-created in the form of a sedentary lifestyle that permeates our daily routine living. Such a way of living comes from an overexposure to technology and a society that places us in one place and often tires us out, leaving many of us not to explore, build, exercise, learn and interact with the world – but to instead live a life of stillness – one where we remain indoors and incessantly consume media as we degenerate our health and complex minds. In doing so we become the salmon out of water, the Chevrolet rusting in the garage, the eagle in the cage. We become the very thing that so often leaves us with a sense of melancholy and sadness – our abilities to explore, build, run and discover contained by a lifestyle choice of closed living.

The effects are deadly. Health campaigners against sedentary living warn that such lifestyles can be linked to as many deaths a year as smoking, with the risk of falling victim to fatal heart diseases rising by 64% when one maintains a static, sedentary lifestyle. Amongst this, research papers conducted on the public also attribute health problems such as depression, diabetes and even dementia. The problem goes beyond such physical health problems though – it rocks our foundations of mental and spiritual well-being. How can we as people aspire to become learned and knowledgeable about the world when our windows to it become sensationalist tabloid-newspapers and trashy, unimaginative television? How can we learn to talk to people and develop our empathy when we physically interact less and less each day? Whereas a lack of exercise will degenerate our bodies, an over-consumption of media and lack of real world empirical experience will degenerate our minds.

Sure, the technological aspects of the information era present to us many advancements in the world. Computers and their capabilities act as the veins of society; TV news brings us far-off events to the comfort of our homes; our phones make it easier to connect than ever before. But to leave this world completely unregulated, place too much emphasis on it and let this static consumption totally replace our natural environment is unnatural and damaging. In a world where technology is becoming increasingly ubiquitous, we need to seek to experience people, events, and places not through profit-driven media, but through travel, exercise and exploration. We should learn not through word of mouth and gossip, but by empirical experiences and real tangible things. These are the things that help us evolve mentally, physically and spiritually – not a static and still sedentary lifestyle that is counterproductive to the evolutionary process that has made us all such advanced beings in the first place.

You and I were meant for so much more than a still lifestyle. So let’s put the fish back in the water, fire up the rusty old Chevrolet one more time and release the eagle from the static cage. Take flight. Walk, run or cycle once a day; integrate travelling movement and learning into lifestyles. On the journey of evolution let our lives count for positive, adventurous and progressive strides, not static and still ones. Because as far as you and I go, we are only here once – so let’s use this time to utilise the tools that make us the most advanced species here on earth. Get up from the chair, open the curtains, open our minds, explore, dream, learn, move and discover.

How To Vaccinate Yourself Against Small-Mindedness

Do you ever find yourself getting angry about trivial things? Or thinking the entire universe was undeniably created for the use of humans? Or that your current culture is the only way humans have ever lived? Or that your ethnicity, gender or social class is paramount over all others? If you answer yes to these things then it may well be that you have contracted the most common condition to infiltrate the psyche of all homo-sapiens – small mindedness.

It is estimated that more than three in every five people unknowingly suffer from the condition which spreads rapidly when those affected congregate together. Unaware that they suffer from the condition, the sufferers will continue on a downward spiral into the psyche of their minds as they unknowingly construct a psychological cage. The condition is easily contracted and often exacerbated by exposure to common causes such as trashy television, bias media coverage, institutional religions and a lack of education and interaction with the wider world.

Small-mindedness is one of the biggest challenges humanity faces on the path to become a logical, rational and sane species. Scientists are working around the clock to try to cure this insidious and troublesome condition, but until then here are some common ways you can vaccinate yourself from this cancer of the mind.


Astronomy

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Just look on any clear night and you can empirically see it with your very own eyes: a universal painting and firework display of thousands and thousands of burning balls of gas from million of light years away in an infinite universe. You do not have to be an astronomer or have a degree in astrophysics to appreciate such a spectacle – just look up and marvel. As you begin to appreciate how utterly tiny and insignificant we are as a species in the grand scheme of the universe, you will naturally begin to acquire a sense of calmness and humility – two of the best vaccines around against the egotistical condition of small-mindedness.

Travel

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Although people born in rich countries will often have considerably more opportunities to travel due to their economy, it can be noted that travel can even consist of a simple journey to a different region, province, state or county of our own country. As you begin to move around places, you will see how human-beings are capable of living and interacting in an array of diverse ways, habits and cultures. As you soak in the experience of this, the horizons of your mind will naturally broaden as you see that the culture you were born into isn’t the only way people experience this thing called life.

The Scientific Method

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Scientific study is currently the best tool humanity has in the quest to understand the world around us. Relying on vigorous testing, empirical evidence, and peer reviews, the scientific method is a ruthless judge that relies on a theory being faultlessly proven again and again for it to be scientifically accepted. What’s more is that no ego is involved – should a much supported theory be proven wrong, the scientific world happily changes its stance in the light of new empirical evidence. The basic principle is to question and test everything – including what you are reading here. And once more, you don’t need a degree to be scientist – if you want to test your view on something, try it out for yourself! Conduct research, investigate, gather evidence and improve your own knowledge. This vaccine is readily available to all.

Literature

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Any decent library should behold a collection of literary texts from all around the world, beholding centuries and centuries of different ideas, dreams and experiences. Libraries can act as portals to the many facets of the human-mind and imagination. As you begin to read up on scientific principles, sift through historical facts, study different philosophies, entertain yourself with literature from different centuries, and absorb an almost infinite stream of knowledge and ideas from throughout the entire history of humanity, naturally your brain will become substantially better at entertaining different perspectives and applying ideas. Again, another great vaccine to guard your mind with.

A Healthy Relationship with Media

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Without a doubt one of the most common causes of small-mindedness is an incessant dependency on the media to construct a view of the world for you. The media is a business like any other, meaning that its key principle is to make profit for its shareholders and uphold the pyramid of organisation and ownership it supports itself with. Often this means that publications, stations and channels have a strong bias and will look to skew the window to the world so that your view of the world is beneficial to them and advertisers, rather than it being a logical and rational one. To stop this from happening, develop a healthy relationship with the media where you get your news coverage from many different publications – complement this by your doing own individual research. Don’t forget to look for non-mainstream news coverage too and question everything you read. Naturally, this will combat any threat of contracting small-mindedness from your television, radio or newspaper.


The list can go on and on, but these are common vaccines that act as a good introduction to guarding your mind from warped ideologies, lies, dogma, corruption and egotistical tendencies. The world is a dangerous place and the threat of small-mindedness lingers all around us, ready to infect our mind at any given opportunity. With a bit of effort, a bit of study, a bit of experience and a loss of ego, one can forever remain a rational and sane human-being, immune from this condition which sadly continues to affect billions world-wide. Stay safe and get protected now by using these easily-accessible vaccines!

How To Look After A Pet Human-Being In The 21st Century

“It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society”

 

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Congratulations! You are here because you have purchased your very first pet human and are ultimately looking for the best advice and insight into looking after and nurturing your animal toward a happy, healthy and productive life! What separates the 21st century human from many of its animal contemporaries is the high level of cognitive intelligence and power that it has the possibility to yield in its abstract DNA. Such development and qualities can potentially mean having a human as a pet can be a far more encumbering and work-heavy experience than other pets as the typical human demands more to look after and regiment into a routine lifestyle. Fortunately years of conditioning, engineering and homogenisation by veterinary experts has led to the development of an array of cages, products and advice at hand that can now allow owners to have the beautiful experience of owning a pet human stress-free! Here are some of the essential tips and advice on how to go about looking after your animal and setting up its cage as it goes through its life happily with no alarms and no surprises for you, the owner!

The Wheel 

pet humanLike most animals of cognitive intelligence, your pet human will need some sense of routine in its life to help it lead a happy and fulfilling life – not to mention a mechanism for which this fabulous creature can focus all of its magnificent energy upon. Such needs can be nurtured with the addition of a spinning plastic wheel to its cage in which for the animal to instinctively run endlessly around all day. Once this item is purchased and fitted, a happy and healthy human will typically spend at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week exercising on its wheel, repeating its conditioned habits again and again as the weeks fly by. The sheer routine of this will provide the animal with a sense of purpose, belonging, mission goals and it will furthermore also act as a vent in which for it to tire itself out during the day, allowing it to sleep and rest thoroughly during the night. As we all know, there is nothing more annoying than a noisy pet banging against the cage and keeping you awake during the night – not to mention the troublesome thought of it escaping! End that worry now by purchasing a pet wheel from the range of hundreds of thousands currently on the market!

Vitamins and Treats

drunk in clubTo keep your humans happy, healthy and productive in their cage, it is acceptable to provide them with certain vitamins on a moderate basis. A good owner will purchase the three essential treats of Caffeine, Tobacco and Alcohol – these three tasty items can be found at any local store and will help supplement your pets living habits and keep them healthily running on the cage wheel efficiently and routinely. For example: caffeine provided to them Monday to Friday will maintain their alertness and concentration, keeping them efficiently running on their wheel in the week; a healthy dose of tobacco will further supplement this behaviour by acting as an aid to vent any stress that may come with such hectic work endeavours; and finally filling their water bottles with alcohol at the weekend will get any remaining problems out of their system whilst also resetting their batteries before they begin their acclimatisation back to their routine the following week. It’s all apart of the animals’ natural living habits so it would be cruel not to provide them with these healthy treats!

Important note: please remember not to feed your animals any of the ‘other’ substances on the pet market; such treats ARE NOT natural to their being, may damage their living habits and won’t be beneficial to you, the owner.

Media

tv petLiving life in a cage may often cause your pet to dream of escape (yes, your pet human dreams too). It is only natural for such an intelligent creature to want to discover what’s beyond its confines; however we as good owners know that the outside world is a dangerous and perilous place for the domesticated human and it would be poor ownership to let it out into the scary and risky domain beyond those bars! Fortunately such behaviour can be fairly controlled by providing your pet human with a constant, daily stream of media for which to meet its dreams and needs of escapism. For example: fitting a television in its cage will keep it hypnotically entertained with shows of their fellow species competing in singing competitions and reality dating shows; tabloid newspapers will furthermore help them realise the true nature of their dangerous and perilous world beyond those bars, meaning they will slowly lose their mischievous thoughts of trying to escape their cage! With a never-ending stream of shows, celebrity magazines and sensationalist tabloid news, your pet will be spoilt for choice and will become slowly homogenised and relaxed to the condition it lives in – thus allowing you and your pet to both lead calmer lives as it becomes happy with the cage it occupies.

Play Toys

iphone-6-ios-simulation-2Finally, just as a dog needs a bone and a cat needs a piece of string, a human also needs playful items to help keep it preoccupied when going about its daily routine. If your pet human is consistently keeping itself busy on its wheel, you may wish to reward it by providing it with a few key play items to maintain its happiness and well-being. Such items over the years have become popular with their species and treating them regularly to the latest smartphones, the latest designer clothes, the latest apps, the latest automobiles, and the latest furniture may prove to be a timely venture, but it will ultimately keep your much-loved pets happy and productive in their cages – allowing you the owner to sit back and relax whilst your animals lovingly adorn their shiny and pretty possessions! Such items are accessible in shops and stores nationwide, so please don’t be hesitant in treating your humans to the fun little balls of joy they truly deserve!


As you can no doubt see, the sheer array of needs to fulfil for your new pet may seem daunting at first, but after providing them with the above and getting to know your human’s habits and personality, you will soon to be on your way to a loving relationship as you nurse over your animal from day-to-day! Just remember that although the pet human may be more of a challenge to look after than your typical fish in a bowl, the sense of ownership, power and fulfilment you gain from raising such a magnificent being will ultimately be worth the cost of your care and attention. At the end of the day humans just want to be kept from harm and looked after without the worries of the fearsome natural world – with the right amount of domestication, regimentation and engineering, not only will your pet human be happy and safe, but it will also be your best friend.

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