There seem to be more drug ads on the tube than there used to be – a lot more. I mean prescription drug ads for a host of conditions, some serious, some less so – from sleeplessness to psoriasis to bipolar disorder to erectile dysfunction.
Their blatant deception bothers me. Ads are dishonest by definition, of course, dreamed up by some Don Draper type. But drug commercials cross a line. They invariably present happy people walking on the beach at sunset, holding hands. They swim and sail, do yoga, ride bikes, fly kites, play with their kids – in short, live life to the fullest, unfettered by their malady, all thanks to some fucking pill.
As viewers take in these images, a neutral narrator (nothing ominous, ever!) warns of side effects that may include sleeplessness and irritability, loss of appetite, dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, constipation, unexplained weight loss, skin reactions, muscle aches, blurred vision, internal bleeding, night sweats, blood clots, increased risk of heart attack or stroke, mood swings, suicidal thoughts, and in rare cases, death.
Meanwhile, some kid is playing with puppies.
I’m reassessing my attitude toward medicine and illness. I think there’s more to so-called alternative therapies than I’ve believed in the past.
My knees have been killing me lately. Or they were: I think I’ve turned the corner. Not because of some drug I can’t pronounce, but because I’ve started taking turmeric supplements and am trying to cut grains from my diet.
I’ve always thought of turmeric as a messy herb that turns stuff yellow, but it appears to be much more.
“Long known for its anti-inflammatory properties,” says some Internet know-it-all, “recent research has revealed that it can be helpful in the treatment of many different health conditions, from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease.”
So I’ve been gulping it down. And my achy breaky knees are responding.
Encouraged by anecdotal evidence, I’ve also cut way back on grains. That too appears to be helping. It means no more baguettes or bagels, no more cookies or cakes, and a host of other stuff I’ve loved for most of my life. Alas.
It’s nothing new to observe we live in an over-medicated society. That includes over-the-counter and recreational drugs. Big Pharma spends $5 billion a year on advertising. Ask your doctor about dammitol.
I want no part of it. Most doctors are throwing darts in the dark. Perhaps my views will change as I get older: when you’re drowning, you’ll grab the blade of a sword.
Some years back, my friend Lorelei (right) was diagnosed with colon cancer. At first she opted for a natural treatment. When that didn’t work, she went down Chemo Road.
Maybe it was the delay that did it, or maybe there never was any hope. But it became a losing battle.
I spoke with her the day before she died. A nurse held a phone to her ear. She was very weak, her voice the faintest whisper, and I’m not even sure she knew it was me. I didn’t know how to say goodbye, and didn’t want to, so I just told her I loved her – but casually, like I would have said it anyway.
No one ever says it enough.
For now, I’m taking baby steps. I take my turmeric caps. A flour milled from blanched almonds offers hope that one day, I may again enjoy something comparable to ordinary bread, and other baked goods. What I’m slowly transitioning to is known to some as the paleo diet. Fad frantic folks, take note. A website called Elana’s Pantry has lots of recipes.