Friday, October 1, 2010

Pharmaceuticals and the Flying Nun

If  I ever see Sally Field on the street, I am going to punch her lights out.  She’s confused me on so many levels.  Is she Gidget, the Flying Nun, Norma Rae or just some annoying wreck who needs medication to keep from shattering into a million bone fragments after I deck her?  And, if, like her, I am diagnosed with osteoporosis, should I ask my doctor for what Gidget is taking….and why does Gidget have osteoporosis anyway?  Didn’t all those years of carrying around a surfboard keep her in fabulous physical condition?  Does anyone remember her boyfriend, Moondoggie?  I don’t even want to imagine what he’s taking.  

These drug commercials are killing me.  I need drugs just to endure them.  We are bombarded, in print as well as on TV, about what to take for over-active bladders, killer cholesterol, every variety of depression, bi-polar disorder, dry eyes, asthma, acid reflux, restless leg syndrome and chronic bronchitis, to name but a few.  Please do not misunderstand.  I am a big fan of medical science and am not making light of the disorders mentioned above.  But I did not attend medical school. Our doctors did.  Please leave it to them as to what to scribble on that little pad.  

I am not a fan, however, of  pharmaceuticals being advertised on television.  I want my doctor to thoughtfully and carefully suggest a medication to me.  Not the other way around. Not to mention, if I go to the doctor and am not offered something trendy and heavily advertised, I start to feel like the girl who came to the prom with her cousin.

The side effects of some of these meds are beyond belief.  Cure one and you might experience an “overwhelming urge to gamble.”  I am not making this up.  Pharmaceuticals these days are very scary--and this from the woman who happily gave her colicky baby something called paregoric, prescribed with equal abandon by our trusted but admittedly older pediatrician.  Upon mentioning this once to a younger doctor (under 80) he paled and referred to them as “knock-out drops.”  Let me tell you, they worked.  Tommy was knocked out….and, may I add, none the worse for it.  These days, he’d find himself on a bus to Atlantic City with a wad of cash in his diaper.

Since I am feeling antagonistic towards the drug companies, allow me to recreate an episode recently witnessed while in a doctor’s waiting room:  There I sit, trying to lower my blood-pressure with the power of my mind when in walks a drug rep carrying a gigantic briefcase bursting at the seams with samples.  He is wearing a very expensive suit and smells fabulous.  The girls at the desk welcome him as if he is their oldest and dearest friend on earth and giggle happily when he tells them that he has ordered a “great lunch” which will arrive shortly.  I abort my blood pressure-lowering trance to watch this spectacle and wonder what in his briefcase will be given to me just because he smells good and is providing a free lunch.  I find my BP rising as thoughts of Sally Field, people side-by-side in outdoor bathtubs and winking restroom signs dance through my head.

Please don’t get all bent out of shape if you or a close relative is a representative from a drug company, I know you are just doing your job and let me compliment you on your expensive clothes and cologne. Your presence in my doctor’s waiting room does not, however, make me feel secure or well-taken care of.  It scares me.  Do I trust my doctor?   I do, but if my doctor is in a sugar-coma from the cannolis that came with lunch, how safe am I?

As I said before, I respect, appreciate and honor medical science and the professionals who dispense their hard-won knowledge sensibly and judiciously.  I just wish Sally Field wasn’t suggesting anything to me other than what flavor of Lifesavers to choose on the check-out line. I especially wish they hadn’t used the wonderful melody from a favorite Elvis movie to sell that little blue pill.  An entire generation of children, de-sensitized to erectile dysfunction, will be confused by the origin of that song.  In any case, I feel an urge to gamble accompanied by sudden aggression and sweating palms, so I will see you all later.

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