November 28, 2007
I'm not one to take medications.
I've always felt the vodka will kill whatever ails me, and knock on wood, so far I've been pretty lucky. I virtually never get sick and I haven't been in the hospital since I had my tonsils out when I was 11.
That particular visit did not work out well for the hospital staff or me. They tried to strap a mask on me to give me ether and I flipped out. I managed to get the mask partially off, sending the gas shooting into the operating room. I nailed one nurse who was trying to hold my feet down with a kick to the teeth that sent her reeling. They eventually subdued me, but I'll never forget the experience, and I haven't been back since.
Both my parents were in the business, so I know a fair amount about medicating. In those days the pharmaceutical companies churned out miracle drug after miracle drug, oblivious to the side effects. Only with time did we learn a few of the minor side effects – pregnant women who took one drug would have, say, nine deformed babies at once. Guys who took another drug grew penises from their foreheads. Drugs put holes in our intestines, caused tumors on our pituitary, formed lesions on our genitals, and so on.
Finally, after the lawsuits became unwieldy, the government realized it could no longer turn a blind eye, even if it involved their buddies and the big drug companies. Thus, we have the Surgeon General.
Most people think his entire job consists of writing the warnings on cigarette packs. You know the ones. They started about 20 years ago: "Warning, smoking may be hazardous to your health." Each year it got worse. "Smoking may cause cancer. Warning, smoking does cause cancer. Warning: tobacco is cancer." Nowadays, half the pack is reserved for warnings: heart failure, heart attacks, emphysema, lung cancer – you name it, smoking causes it. (I have gleamed, from personal experience, that smoking causes PMS, but that is a matter for another time.) The comedian Denis Leary suggested they change the name from "cigarettes" to "tumors."
We now have these warnings attached to most pills on the market.
You've seen the television ads.
Some older guy or woman moaning and complaining, oftentimes accompanied by a wide-eyed child who is being told Dad or Mom or Grandpa is too sick to go fishing with him. Cut to a doctor behind a desk with charts and diplomas hanging behind him. He tells you about the latest drug to bring back your hair, increase your fertility, remove acne, improve your sexual performance, clear your sinus cavities, get rid of Athlete's Foot, and a million other ailments. Then, the same person who was in distress is shown, smiling and fishing with the little one. Then the serious voice-over message ruins the whole mood:
"Warning, taking Cepratol may cause drowsiness in laboratory animals. Anyone with any blood pressure whatsoever should not take Cepratol if you're planning to eat this month. Cepratol causes the death of fetuses – not just yours but anyone's on your block. A giant plum-sized tumor will form on your left gonad and your sister's uterus if you take this prescription. People with open blisters will probably have a near-fatal seizure if they so much as look at a bottle of this crap. Minors, majors, and elderly people should not take Cepratol. Not to be taken by women under 80 or over 82. Do not combine with other medicines or saliva, including your own. Do not take if breathing rapidly or slowly. Illegal in Arizona and the District of Columbia. Do not operate heavy machinery like your legs when taking this medicine."
The voice delivers the warning in a low, calm, soothing manner, speaking very quickly. The idea is you've already decided to buy Cepratol because it makes you feel so good, so you probably aren't paying much attention to the rest of the commercial.
I am big on the home remedies. A bunch of us were talking about this the other night, and we all agreed chicken soup is without question a remedy for a cold and flu. I gave my wife a shot of Irish whiskey to quell a toothache, and it worked perfectly. (My mother used to warn: "Leave it in your cheek, don't swallow it!" And I'd always reply, "Oops!")
I believe jalapeño peppers, tomato sauce, Quaaludes and liverwurst are other natural remedies.
In conclusion, remember sickness is something that may be all in your mind, unless you have diarrhea, which is a pretty good indication it's in your body.
Do not operate heavy machinery like your legs when taking this medicine.