Weir Only Human
Millions of Americans take some sort of prescription or over the counter drugs every day. They take them because we live in an age in which it seems that every problem can be solved by taking a pill. Can’t stop smoking on your own? Take a chemical that will work on your brain and nervous system to keep you from inhaling the cancer-producing habit. Unable to control your weight by diet and exercise? You can choose from a huge menu of compounds containing everything from stimulants to depressants with a bit of hocus-pocus thrown in for marketing value. There’s even a pill with an inflatable balloon inside. Yes, that’s right, a balloon! After patients swallow the pill (which is attached to a thin tube) and it makes its way down to the stomach, doctors use the tube to inflate the balloon.
The tube is then removed and the balloon stays down in the belly. It can stay in there for up to three months, after which a doctor deflates the balloon and pulls it out through the mouth. Ouch! The claim is that the balloon will add weight to the stomach, helping patients feel full sooner, which in turn helps them eat less. The disclaimer says that, while it’s likely true that the balloon makes you feel full, there’s a small possibility that the balloon could get lodged in the stomach, which could cause anything from vomiting to death. If that wasn’t terrifying enough, you also run the risk of the balloon stretching the stomach or the esophagus. This would likely cause inflammation which could result in an ulcer, internal bleeding, or infection.
If you’re having trouble sleeping; no problem because sleep aids fill entire sections in most supermarkets or pharmacies. And, like every other drug in that multi-billion dollar industry, there’s a disclaimer that supposedly protects the companies from lawsuits when consumers end up in hospitals or morgues because they thought it must be safe if it’s legal to sell. Have you seen those televised commercials with healthy-looking, attractive people extolling the virtues of some drug that has absolutely made their lives more joyful and exciting? Thirty seconds of praise and happy faces are followed by a speed talker who cites a litany of possible deadly scenarios in about 5 seconds of air time.
One sleep solution warns you (in rapid-speak) about possible abnormal behaviors connected to its use such as aggressiveness, agitation, confusion and hallucinations. In addition, it may result in shortness of breath, swelling of the tongue or throat that “may become fatal.” It goes on to state that side effects may include next-day drowsiness, dizziness, headaches leading to depression, including risk of suicide. Let me think about that a minute. I’m having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, so I should take a pill that might cause my throat to swell up, block off my air passages and kill me. On the other hand, it might merely cause me to commit suicide. Hmm…., that’s a tough choice.
There’s a commercial about the dangers of smoking, followed by, you guessed it, a drug that can end that filthy habit. The paid actors in the commercial look hale and hearty as they give kudos to the drug that freed them from a carcinogen that was shortening their lives. Then comes the rapid-fire warning which goes by so fast you could get whiplash. The warnings range from the usual agitation, hostility and suicidal thoughts, to severe depression, serious skin reactions such as rashes and swelling around the mouth or in the throat which can be life-threatening. Oh, it can also cause severe abdominal bleeding and kidney problems that may lead to surgery.
Naturally, (excuse the expression) all these disclaimers are accompanied by the admonishment to users that they should consult a physician if any of the aforementioned horrors occur. It doesn’t say how you can consult a physician after you commit hari-kari. Keep in mind that these huge corporations spend hundreds of millions of dollars on these ads, which in reality are dressing up dangerous drugs in fancy clothing and selling them to a public that probably trusts the FDA to protect them from the greed merchants. By the way, any doctor that recommends drugs that may help you, but could kill you, has forsaken the Hippocratic Oath that promises to “first, do no harm.”
Bob Weir is a veteran of 20 years with the New York Police Dept. (NYPD), ten of which were performed in plainclothes undercover assignments. Bob began a writing career about 16 years ago and had his first book published in 1999. He also became a syndicated columnist under the title “Weir Only Human.”