Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 02/03/2011

Whoa…Chances are, there’s a pill for that


Must admit that the Catholic schoolgirl in me still exists.  It still lies latent under some additional wrinkles and fat cells.  I still squirm when the erectile dysfunction commercial comes on the television.  Usually, I can be counted on to stand up, clear my throat and ask anyone in the room if they want something to drink, have any more homework, remembered to take out the trash or put all their laundry in the laundry basket.  Most of the time it is a yes-no-yes-yes.  Nowadays, in television advertising, anything is fair game. Tampons, feminine itch, diarrhea, hemorrhoids. I can still remember June and Ward Cleaver sleeping in beside-each-other twin beds. Ward? Well, I think Ward got along just fine without Cialis.  There was, after all, Wally and Beaver.

In the Cialis commercial, a couple sit in side-by-side bathtubs on the shores of a lake with their backs to the camera. Ummm….what about the plumbing?  In the middle of nowhere — two porcelain bathtubs on the shore???  Not a towel rack in sight. Is this the 2011 version of the late ’70’s commercial for Calgon?  Remember those little blue crystals that you add to bathwater and in the background, someone whispers, “Calgon, take me away”. Calgon didn’t deliver exponential sex.  But probably the worst that could be expected with these blue crystals is an itchy rash. Cialis has the potential side effect of permanent or partial blindness.  An over-the-top romp in the hay and the potential for needing a seeing eye dog????  No thanks.

Now, I guess in the day of litigation hiding behind every corner, drug companies are required to list the possible side effects. Oh boy.  So Cialis — you are to report to the hospital for an erection lasting more than four hours to avoid long-term injury.  Just imagine how that scenario would play out.  Walk through the automatic doors of the local ER.  The triage nurse asks for the “chief medical complaint”. “Ummmm, well……I have….well, I was…..and it’s been about four hours, maybe a little longer and I, uh thought I should come in…..”  I would think that any forward thinking male would picture that vignette and take a pass on enhanced sex!

Other drugs have less embarrassing side effects, yet they are not to be taken lightly. Take Boniva.  Sally Field tells us about this med used for the management of postmenopausal osteoporosis.  You can’t take this med if you can’t stand for 60 minutes.  You could experience chest pain, severe heartburn and bone pain.

Then there is Valtrex.  This med is used to reduce the risk of spreading genital herpes. However it is not known if Valtrex reduces the risk of spreading genital herpes in same sex couples. You could be in for headache, nausea, abdominal pain, constipation, allergic reaction, dizziness, tremors, compromised immune systems and drug reactions.

How about Strattera?  This is an ADHD medication that, when taken, could result in jaundice and liver damage.  In children, upset stomach, decreased appetite, nausea/vomiting, tiredness, dizziness and mood swings are possible. Can you tell me how a school kid can be at the top of his game in the classroom with that list of symptoms?

A female lubricant that enhances sexual desire.  The commercial ends with a couple sitting up in bed, looking as though they have both had sex on steroids. Really?  As my kids would say, “T-M-I”.  (Too much information)

Seems like pharmaceuticals ought to be weighed on a cost/benefit basis.  What is the taking of this drug costing the patient? This isn’t a dollars and cents answer.  This is the cost of the quality of the patient’s life.  Some of the risks are permanent.  Is terrific sex worth the price of being blind?  I think that pharmacology has gone beyond what any of us could have imagined in recent years.  Good meds that have made the relatively new field of palliative care possible.

But responsible use of prescription meds is important.  We seemingly have a pill for everything.  Too fat?  There’s a pill for that. Can’t sleep.  Take a pill. Feeling anxious? Ditto.  Maybe the real problem is that we have forgotten how to just live with a nervous stomach kind of day, or a night when you look at the ceiling more than you snore.  Could it be that our bodies are telling us something — and we are medicating ourselves and ignoring the real issues behind that anxiety or sleeplessness?

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