Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Looking For Dr. Feelgood

Several years ago there was a novel published entitled Looking For Mr. Goodbar. I am in the mood to write a book as well and entitle it, Looking for Dr. FeelGood! We certainly are a nation in search of that little pill that will make all the bad scarey things go away. And apparently we are more than willing to let the Pharmaceutical Companies make a killing (pardon the pun there) on us.

And if you do not have any major complaints, and are feeling pretty good, do not be fooled, you are obviously in denial But, there is hope for you yet! Big Pharma is working day and night on your behalf. They are searching and searching, as only they know how, to find a symptom of something, ANYTHING, that you can call your own. And of course they will have developed just the right cure.

It was definitely easier back in the "good old days" when you had multiple symptoms and it all could be cured with some good old Snake Root oil or a Coca Cola at the local Drug Store. Of course that was when they actually put the drug IN the Coca Cola, but you could not take a drink of Gin (unless it came from the bathtub of course). The Snake Root Oil salesman, did one heck of a good job from the back of his wagon, and like the children of Hamlin we are still following in his dusty wheel tracks, waiting for him to start his spiel and sell us his magic elixers!

We have made giant strides in medicine and in our knowledge of what causes certain diseases. Who of us would like to have lived in Cotton Mather's day when he opined that women who persisted in "multiplied and repeated miscarriages" were blaspheming their sacred duty! Today we have the knowledge to prevent, most of the time, this multiplying miscarrying from happening. This is a good thing. Well, most of the time. We need not to forget Thalidamide and the horrors that caused.

If it was your luck to survive childbirth back in those long ago days, then you probably already had a leg up by possessing a strong constitution.. This you definitely needed. It was in your favor if an apothecary or doctor never needed to be consulted on your behalf, or to have mother check her household manual for a "home remedy". Some were harmless, however, some were a definite gamble. Consider this one in which we learn how "To Kill Worms In Children". Take sage, boil it with milk to make a good tea, turn it to whey with alum or vinegar, and give the whey to the child. If the worms are not knotted in the stomach it will be a sure cure. If the worms ARE knotted in the stomach it will kill the child. What a choice!

Even as far removed as we feel we are from that sort of treatment of our children, we are urged today by Drs., who are backed by the pharmaceutical companies, to give to our children pills that have a detrimental effect on their very well being and have actually, it is believed, made many take their own lives. Teenagers in the throes of BEING teenagers are being told they are not "normal" that they are bi polar, suffer from social anxiety,and all sorts of weird and wonderful things cooked up by the medical community, with the blessing of BIG PHARMA who rush right in with Adderall, Prozac, Ritalin and a host of other mood altering drugs, for which they rake in billions of dollars a year. The snake oil salesman had nothing on them!

Well, you say, we have lots of good things these days, it is not all bad, and you are quite right. Good hygiene and sanitation have made life much less risky, and of course gone is the taboo of suffering in silence because certain things were not to be mentioned. Today, things that are common knowledge, were then, unanswerable questions, even for reputable physicians. There were no laws to control patent medicines so when in 1708, Duffy's Elixir Salutis was advertised in the Boston News-Letter, until 1906 when the government decided that some controls needed to be in place, any quack with the talent for salesmanship, or "puffery" as it was called, could get rich quick.

Of course all sorts of statements and preposterous claims could be made, and if the subject was "unmentionable" all the better because the general public would not think to check on the veracity of it. One advertisement, for a cancer "cure", claimed that "In any woman's breast, any lump is cancer." And because the loss of his manhood, or a weakness in women, was the bane of their existence, people like Lydia E. Pinkham had a clientele ripe for the picking.
Lydia billed herself as "mother to the women of the world" and her wonder-working vegetable tonic made it's debut in 1875. As Mrs. Pinkham was a stand up member of the W.C.T.U. alcohol, she explained, which was the mainstay of her high proof "tonic", was simply there as a solvent and preservative Taken at 4 tablespoons a day I am sure there was many a housewife who was no longer concerned about a "falling womb", or much else for that matter.

But I have to think that for all the progress we have made. we have really not come too far. We can live longer and healthier lives, but we are also being scammed by the new Snake Root Oil salesmen know as Eli Lilly, Merck, Pfizer and a host of others. Their "wagon" is gone, but now the television serves the huckster's purpose, and from the comfort of out living rooms, rather than the dusty village square we are regaled with "puffery".

Lydia Pinkham's tonic has been replaced with any number of HRT's. A man's "weakness" can be taken care of with Viagara or Cialis. Years ago your mental stability being in question, your relatives would have relegated you to the attic or the cellar. Today Prozac or Ambien will be your mental health's best friend, especially if you are a teenager. If you can't sleep we have a pill for that. Acid Reflux? We'll have you eating pizza again! Toenail fungus, halitosis, dry eyes, red eyes, colds and flu. High blood pressure, low blood sugar, heart's a flutter, or allergic to butter, we have a pill for you! At great expense, we might add. Oh! and do not forget the side effects..if we bother to tell you about them.

Personally, I am still searching for my own syndrome. I saw a brand new one recently and it rather appealed to me, and I think I just might have it! It is "restless leg syndrome". Sound's like a real winner doesn't it? I have long wondered why I have felt compelled to keep making trips to the refrigerator, stove, sink, bathroom, bedroom, the car...the mall!!

Wonder what the shelf life of Lydia E, Pinkham's Vegetable tonic is. A few jolts of that and I am sure my legs will be just fine!st