photo credit: Drew, pictured, was monitored 24/7 during the study. Image used with permission via Drew Iwanicki.
Would you take $18,000 (£11,700) to stay bed-ridden for 70 days straight? And we mean bed-ridden; you must remain horizontal at all times (yes, even when going to the toilet), enduring all the physical pain that involves.
Well, last year, NASA paid about 50 volunteers to do just that, to learn how muscle and bone would deteriorate in such conditions. The research may be useful for lengthy space missions in the future, such as trips to Mars.
One of those volunteers, Drew Iwanicki, spoke to NextShark about his experience. In the interview about the study, called CFT 70 (Countermeasure and Functional Testing in Head-Down Tilt Bed Rest Study), Iwanicki said that he first heard about the opportunity in a post on Reddit in 2013. After signing up, he was chosen out of a pool of 25,000 applicants to undertake the study in November 2014.
In the interview, he explained how he was monitored 24/7, while he also had to follow an extremely strict diet that kept his weight at 90 kilograms (200 pounds). He wasn’t even allowed to sit up to make eye contact with his girlfriend when she visited, and he had to relieve himself in a “pee jug” and a bedpan while lying down.
“I was on a regimented sleep schedule,” he told NextShark. “Lights out at 10 p.m., lights on at 6 a.m. No napping allowed during the day, which is one of the cruelest jokes about being stuck in bed all day, not being able to nap.”
There was some respite: He was allowed to prop himself up on his hands and elbows for 30 minutes to eat his food, before having to lie down again. And he had a laptop, held in a bracket above his bed, and books to keep him entertained. Some light exercise was also thrown in.
After tax, he said he earned about $13,000 (£8,500) in total. Alongside the 70 in which he was bed-ridden, 38 days were also added for pre- and post-bed rest periods, when he went through a number of tests.
All in all, that’s about $170 (£110) a day to lie in a bed, and be prodded and probed. Worth a shot?