Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What ails ya

Remember, back in the day, when you’d feel sick, and your mother would take you to the doctor, (or he’d come to you)? He’d check you out, take out his script pad, and write a prescription for something that would make you feel better. (Usually something with codeine and alcohol, mind you… just what a growing 7 year old needs). What a concept – a doctor deciding the best course of treatment to cure what ails ya. But in recent years, we seem to have removed this burden from medical personnel, whom I’m pretty sure have to go to special schools for this kind of stuff, and opted to entrust drug manufacturers, and advertising agencies. Oh, yeah… and Wilfred Brimley. He’s got diabetes ya know. How funny it must be for a doctor these days. He tries to prescribe something to help with excess acid, and even though he’s got more things on his wall written in Latin than the Vatican, we kindly let him know that we’d like the purple pill instead, because hey – the guy in the commercial looked relieved. How did this happen?

OK – it was a rhetorical question. We all know how. Money, money, money… Pharmaceuticals are a multi-billion dollar industry. I remember the big rivals were Tums vs. Rolaids, and Tylenol vs. Excedrin. Now, it’s a bit more high stakes. And the saturation is absurd. Every commercial break during any show, movie, or sporting event on TV will have at least one product in the so-called healthcare family. Whatayagot? Joint pain, acne, athlete’s foot, high blood pressure, lines, circles, belly fat? They have commercials for herpes medicine. Do they not think a licensed MD can handle herpes? They need to get you to go and request stuff? I’d actually like to see the alternate version of the herpes commercial. Girl in the foreground, guy walking up behind her with a very serious look on his face… Girl begins, “I have herpes”. Guy – “and I… WHAT??? I thought this was a Pepsi commercial!!! Get Sid on the phone!”

I have another question – When did we all get so sick? Everyone seems to have ‘something’. Acid reflux is popular. Depression is huge. Hypertension, high cholesterol – the list goes on. Let’s not forget the acronyms… PAD, ADHD, GERD, Afib, IBS, PTSS and PMDD, which is kind of like PMS on steroids… Oy. We need drugs to cope, drugs to stay awake, to curb our appetites. We have drugs for erectile dysfunction, and drugs to help us sleep, (talk about your ups and downs)… There is even a drug now that acts as a supplement to your depression medication in case it doesn’t work by itself. I’m no doctor, but isn’t depression medication supposed to alleviate your depression symptoms. If not, isn’t it just pretty much a Tic Tac? So, just a recap – there is now depression medication for depression medication. You can’t make it up! Look - I don’t deny that some folks really have afflictions, where medication is a necessity, but come one. America is turning into one big episode of House.

I also find it quite intriguing, (as if to say, ‘hmmmm’), that there is plenty out there in the way of treatment, but not a lot in the way of prevention. Why? There’s no money in it. It really isn’t a horrible thing for the bottom line to have a high percentage of the population with what seems to be a cornucopia of ‘treatable’ ailments. Think of the dichotomy - It’s not uncommon to see a McDonald’s commercial hyping the new 1/3 pounder, followed by a Lipitor commercial. Beautiful! I don’t know. Maybe I’m nuts. Some things just really don’t make sense to me. Like, why have the red pistachios when you can have the tan ones and not have stained fingers? – Anyway, maybe we should take advertisements for what they are worth, (some are kind of funny), stop surfing WebMD, maybe try adding a healthy element or 2 to the every day, and let the medical folk make the medical decisions – not Madison Avenue.

Damn – now I want pistachios.