side effects of life
Have you noticed the long string of warnings in TV commercials for prescription drugs?
How could you miss it? It’s downright scary. Takes up half of the evening news. The drug companies know their audience, don’t they? Only geezers watch TV news. News has not yet become relevant to the young. (But just wait, young people!)
I’m afraid to go see a doctor anymore. I might wind up with one of those prescriptions. Their side effects sound riskier than the ailment.
I can see it now: Doctor says to me, “Bob, you’re got a touch of maxorenia. Here’s a prescription for it.”
Well, I’ve seen the ad for that drug many times. After stating what it’s for, the announcer reads a list of “possible side effects.” The list is longer than the tail on Halley’s Comet.
It is longer than a Super Bowl halftime show featuring Beyonce doing an in-your-face dance routine in minimal clothing.
It is longer than a speech by Vice President Joe Biden, especially if he begins with, “I’ll just say a few words….”
It is longer than the time I sat at a rail crossing in Columbia’s Five Points last week while waiting for a freight train to pass. Started on Tuesday, finished late Thursday. (34,874 cars, at least, passing at a snail’s pace — and occasionally backing up!)
Oh, and the list itself? It goes something like this: “Has been known to make your dog leave home (and not come back); has caused patients who drive Highway 17 to forego tailgating and speeding to beat the next light; can create an irresistible urge to vote Republican; can cause halitosis strong enough to peel paint; effected a complete cure in one out of 10 patients (the other nine have been moved to Intensive Care).
On and on the warnings go: “This medicine Is expected to double in price next week, same as last week, so stock up; was a prime suspect in pro football’s Deflate Gate last year (jury’s still out); causes terminal brown spot if spilled on centipede lawns; has been known to make old boy- and girlfriends show up on your doorstep after you’re married. (If you’re a male, be sure to ask for the blue pill; females should opt for the pink – unless, of course, well, you know: different strokes for different folks. Just remember: It’s a brave new world.)
The reason for all these warnings and disclaimers is obvious, isn’t it? The drug companies have been sued (successfully) more times than Carter has little liver pills. So now their lawyers come into court with a mile-long list of we-told-you-so’s. Imagine getting picked to sit on one of those juries! You could celebrate a couple of birthdays just listening to lawyers read (in relays) all the warnings that show how heedless and risk-prone the defendant’s customers were.
What I’m waiting for is a youth pill. If the drug companies come up with that, forget the side effects, I’m in!
No. Wait a minute. On second thought, I don’t want to know it all again. I’d rather continue to live and learn. Maybe the drug companies can come up with a Wisdom Pill. Imagine how long the side effects of that medicine would be.
Image: *Common side affects from actual warnings: headache; back, muscle, bone or joint pain; severe or continuing heartburn; diarrhea or constipation; flatulence; nausea; abdominal pain and bloating; painful swallowing; chest pain; pain in the arms or legs; blurred vision and an erection lasting more than 4 hours; swelling or tenderness of the breast; a specific birth defect; high blood pressure; an unsafe drop in blood pressure; shortness of breath; a slow heartbeat; weight gain; fatigue; hypotension; dizziness; faintness; decreased appetite; sleepiness; sexual side effects; nervousness; tremor; yawning; sweating; weakness; insomnia; fewer tears or have dry eyes; unexplained weakness; rare cases of tuberculosis; serious infections; a higher rate of lymphoma; vaginal bleeding; painful menstruation; leg cramps; breast pain; vaginitis and itching; difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue or face; a personality disorder; numbness; a bad rash or hives; problems urinating; long-term loss of potency; stroke; interaction with other medicines or certain foods; seizures; blood clots; a speech disorder; increased salivation; amnesia; paresthesia; intestinal bleeding; colitis; confusion; decreased levels of sodium in the blood; fluid in the lungs; hair loss; hallucinations; increased levels of potassium in the blood; low blood cell counts; palpitations; pancreatitis; ringing in the ears; tingling sensation; unusual headache with stiff neck (aseptic meningitis); vertigo; worsening of epilepsy; serious kidney problems; acute kidney failure and worsening of chronic kidney failure; severe liver problems including hepatitis, jaundice and liver failure; coughing up blood; cough that doesn't go away; blue-grey color or darkening around mouth or nails; slow or difficult speech; loss of ability to concentrate; hallucinating; extreme tiredness; seizures; numbness, heaviness, or tingling in arms or legs; floppiness or loss of muscle tone; lack of energy; excessive sweating; fever, sore throat and chills; bloody (or black) vomit or stools; worsening depression; sudden or severe changes in mood or behavior including feeling anxious, agitated, panicky, irritable, hostile, aggressive, impulsive, severely restless, hyperactive, overly excited, or not being able to sleep; dependency; unpleasant taste; thoughts of suicide and death. Created for LikeTheDew.com
I grew up in Augusta, Ga., where I attended Boys' Catholic High. After service in the Navy, I attended the University of Georgia, majoring in English, and then began a (wholly unexpected) journalism career on the old Augusta Herald, an evening paper,
and ended years later in Atlanta at The (great) Atlanta Constitution, which I left in late 1982 to write The Great American Novel. That goal has proved remarkably elusive, but my first attempt (Striking Out, in 1991) was nominated for the PEN/Hemingway Award. My second novel, Atlanta Blues, spent a few minutes on the best-seller list in (at least) Columbia, S.C., and was described in one newspaper’s year-end roundup as “one of the three best novels of 2004 by a Southern writer.” My third novel won no honors but at least didn’t get me hanged; titled A Majority of One, it is about a clash between religion and the Constitution over book-banning in the high school of a Georgia town. For my next novel, And Tell Tchaikovsky the News, I returned to an Atlanta setting for a story about the redemptive powers of, in this case anyhow, “that good rock ’n’ roll.” I've also published a collection of short stories and poems: Six of One, Half Dozen of Another. One of its stories, “R.I.P.,” was a winner in the S.C. Fiction Project in 2009. Before retirement, I taught creative writing and American literature at the University of South Carolina and its Honors College, and feature writing in its School of Journalism. I maintain a now-and-then blog at boblamb.wordpress.comand I walk my dog on the beach a lot at Pawleys Island, S.C.