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What’s a little torture if I’m getting paid for it?

The market favors pain

By Brandon LeverPublished 2 years ago 3 min read
What’s a little torture if I’m getting paid for it?
Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

Let there be no confusion – as I write this, I am in physical pain, but, hell, I’m getting paid for it. I’m lying in a hospital bed, one of those king single-sized affairs all clad in pristine white with a panel of plugs, buttons and dials on the wall behind me. My t-shirt shows bulges here and there from the half a dozen monitoring electrodes that leech onto my chest and the wires that snake down the left of me and meet at the portable ECG machine by my wrist. I wouldn’t dare lift my arm from the bed – exactly why I’m typing this with just my right hand. The slightest movement only enhances the pain, and as it is, I’m in agony.

There’s a cannula plunged into the crook of my arm – a thin tube running into and up my vein so the nurses can siphon my blood frequently throughout the day. The pain, as far as I can tell, is two-pronged: there’s the stabbing sensation of having a foreign object pass through your skin (and stay there), then there are the sharp, sporadic pangs that stem, I think, from the tube hitting and grinding against the inside of my vein.

But there’s also the routine of having the nurse shoot a syringe of saline back through the cannula at the conclusion of every blood collection – the standard way to prevent blood from clotting and blocking the tubing. This procedure carries its own delightful sensation. Something like suddenly cooling the blood in your antecubital fossa to a chill and then having that quickly radiate throughout your entire arm. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it painful, but it certainly is unpleasant – much like the general numbing of my hand that comes from, I think, its prolonged inactivity.

But I asked for this. I signed the consent forms and agreed to be in this clinical trial. “Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension” is the focus, they say. Something to do with high blood pressure and the narrowing of the arteries in the heart, I think. I can’t remember exactly what I read in the trial information document. But it didn’t carry much risk, I remember that. I just didn’t count on the pain being this intense. But I’m not pulling out now – despite my being able to withdraw at anytime – not when there’s $1600 on the line and I’m underemployed.

My casual gig writing blogs for a property management company hardly covers my food bill, let alone my rent, car insurance, petrol and social expenses. I’ve been looking for more work for months on end, but to no avail. My finances are wearing thin. Soon, as my father would say, “it’ll be down and out in Paris and London”. The economy, it would seem, is not eager to benefit a writer with a master’s degree in journalism. But it is very willing to offer a large sum of cash to the same person if they subject themselves to a few days of light torture – which they don’t quite indicate in the fine print.

I’m in pain now. It’s coursing through my arm and veins at this very moment. It has been for hours now, and it will continue for hours and days more. But I need the money. And this is what the market has offered up. So I’ll see this out…to the bitter end by the looks of it. What’s a university degree when you can volunteer to be tortured for a living? What’s some agony if the economy will pay you for it? Bring on the pain, I say, but don’t forget the money.


About the Creator

Brandon Lever

What can i say? I like to write:)

Mostly about society and culture.

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