Last updateFri, 15 Mar 2019 3pm

Which is worse? The disease or the cure

Remember when drugs were Bufferin, Ludens, Pepto Bismol and Geritol?

None embarrassed you if found hanging about for visitors to see. They were even suitable to mention at dinner conversations. Because they didn’t have anything to do with bladder or other bodily leaks.

And you never ever checked to see what was in them, because you believed “Serutan was Natures Spelled Backwards.”  As such, you didn’t have to ask your doctor if it was okay to take “Natures Spelled Backwards” with your Vick’s VapoRub, a repellent so potent it not only muffled your cold symptoms but killed most flying insects. Regimes were all simple and safe at any age.


Today, you have to make sure Vick’s VapoRub doesn’t react with your Riskall medication or you could find your nose starting to point toward your ear.

What’s more, Riskall promises to relieve bladder leaks and acid reflux, reduce the risk of stroke and swelling of the face, as well as erratic mood episodes. It also comes with the next ad page sprawling in small type with the side effects: “Bladder leaks and acid reflux, increased risk of stroke and swelling of the face and may cause manic mood episodes. If you plan to be sexually active or hope to be able to tie your shoes, ask your doctor if Riskall is right for you.” This page has the word count of a chapter from Dostoevsky and is as clear and meaningful as the Book of Revelations.

But then you go back to the magazine ad showing the grinning handsome model obviously free of his swollen face and erratic mood episodes either bicycling with his wife (who is smiling from her freedom from cramps) or playing with his children (calmed from their ADD) in an idyllic, suburban setting.

The cost for Riskall is never mentioned. But a hint may be the fact that the guy in the ad is riding a bicycle instead of driving the Mercedes he used to own.

The other problem with all of this is that nobody reads that second page. The guy on the bicycle is just too convincing. And if you do read the second page and you try to reach your doctor about it, you wind up leaving a message. By the time he gets back to you, you’ve found an herbal remedy that has shrunk your swollen face or fixed your bladder leak and also mysteriously cleared up the osteoarthritis in your knees.  In Mexico, more and more people are discovering the plenitude of natural treatments that often serve more healthfully and inexpensively to cure illnesses without complicated drugs whose ingredients sound like formulas for atomic fission. Or somehow always require a belt of opioids for taste.

Now, I’m not suggesting that all pharmaceuticals are bad. But the reason for all of these complicated drugs seems to be that we keep discovering new and greater variations of illnesses.

Remember the common cold? Well, it’s no longer common. In fact, many people are unsure whether they have a cold or if its the flu or it could be allergic rhinitis, asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), histoplasmosis, pertussis, pulmonary hypertension, even roundworms (yes, next time you start sneezing, you might want to get to a vet).  And if it happens to be a cold, the cold can be caused by many different viruses, all of which are immune to Smith Brothers cough drops. So Big Pharma delivers a medication for every viral mutation. What about indigestion?  There are now over 100 prescription and over-the-counter medications for indigestion and you have to check most out with your doctor.  Indigestion isn’t indigestion or heartburn anymore. It’s dyspepsia, reflux disease, gastroenteritis, colitis, intestinal parasites or something called Barrett’s esophagus (Named for that fat guy at the food court always pouring chipotle over his pork tacos). So forget Tums. They’re just an after-dinner candy these days.

Every day, I hear of a new disease or a new organ component I didn’t know could leak. And with most of them, they’re fatal if I eat a pizza.