OMG!! Rain!! Drowsiness!! High Winds!! Constipation!!

As I write this my Pittsburgh Penguins have just been eliminated from the NHL Playoffs while their best player…ostensibly the best player in the world…Sidney Crosby watched from a luxury box after having been out since January…over 4 months…with a concussion. Now I am no doctor, but four months for a concussion seems extreme to say the least. Either there is something that Penguins’ brass are not telling us, or they are playing it very very very safe. The latter is more likely, which is the point of my irritation at the moment.


I had already been irritated by a couple of other things lately, neither related to hockey but tangentially connected to my point, which I will eventually get around to making. First, one of the local TV stations in my area has, over the course of the past year or two, made a habit out of interrupting whatever it is I am watching with what initially sounds like a dire weather emergency…batten down the hatches, Katy bar the door, head for the hills. But when one gets past all the fancy graphics and Doppler radar what the well-meaning meteorologist has done is cut in on General Hospital to tell me it is going to rain. Really?? I don’t mean to sound like the clichéd old fogey that talks about walking to school barefoot in 3 feet of snow uphill both ways, but when I was a child we would get some pretty rockin’ thunderstorms throughout the spring & summer and we never had much of a warning. Now I will admit that it is kind of cool that technology allows one to pinpoint exactly when & where a storm is going to occur and how long it will last, but I just don’t think it is necessary. And personally I find it far less important than finding out if Elizabeth is FINALLY going to tell Lucky that he, not Nikolas, is Aiden’s father.


The second thing that I have been more amused than annoyed by for a few years are drug commercials. You’ve seen them…Cialis, Boniva, Nexium, Cymbalta, Chantix. They promise to cure everything from erectile dysfunction to depression to high cholesterol. Now…again with the old fogeyness…when I was a kid drugs weren’t advertised on television, or atleast I don’t recall that they were. Medication was the domain of doctors. You didn’t feel good, you went to the doctor, he prescribed something, and you picked it up at the pharmacy. When did we start allowing meds to be hocked in commercials like they are a product we are intent on selling as much of as possible instead of as little as possible (which would be preferable)?? No wonder we have a drug problem in America. And truth be told the collective effects of all these various pills are far worse for us than marijuana, which of course remains illegal. But that’s a different diatribe for another day. What’s even more sad is that, for reasons that I am sure involve whole teams of high priced attorneys, these commercials must disclose possible side effects, and it is sometimes hilarious in a macabre sort of way. After spending about half of the commercial telling us what a particular drug can do for us, a fast talking voiceover tells us in a hushed tone all the bad things the drug can do to us…upset stomach, constipation, nausea, bloating, heartburn, painful swallowing, diarrhea, joint & muscle pain, dry mouth, indigestion, a sudden & unsafe drop in blood pressure, dizziness, shortness of breath, liver problems, death. Yes, I said death. Now maybe it’s just because I hate taking pills anyway, but I have to ask myself whether or not the positive aspects of a particular medication outweigh the possible side effects, and when the side effects include death the answer becomes obvious.


The truth, however, is that medications have always had side effects, just as the consequences of concussions have always been there and we’ve dealt with thunderstorms and other weather occurrences since the beginning of time. The difference is now technology allows us to have an overflow of information about every conceivable issue right at our fingertips with minimal effort. We have no excuse to be ignorant about a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. The question becomes “Is that a good thing??”.


On the surface the answer would seem to be yes. Unlike the 19th Century it isn’t common in 2011 for 35 year olds to drop dead of diseases like scarlet fever or tuberculosis because advances in medicine have cured many things or atleast minimized the damage. And I am certainly not anti-technology. I love my television & computer, and of course how could we do much of anything without our automobiles. But I do think we can suffer from paralysis from analysis. We don’t simply go out and buy what we need anymore…we compare, look at reviews, research the product online, and listen to every “expert” on the subject we can find. Political opinions?? We let an endless array of pundits “spin” us instead of making up our own minds based on critical thinking or maybe even prayer & guidance from Above. Food?? Who the hell can eat anymore since we are told that nearly everything, including air & water, will kill us. Books?? We wait for the thumbs up from Oprah or atleast read how many stars people give it on Amazon. Movies?? Siskel & Ebert may not be around anymore (well, Ebert is still alive but his face is gone) but there are still a plethora of media types that tell us whether or not a film is good before we ever step into the theater. It is exhausting.


Maybe having all this information at our disposal isn’t all that swell. Maybe it just causes us more stress. I think I would rather get my medication prescribed by a doctor and not have it sold to me. If it rains I think I am smart enough to seek shelter or take any other necessary precautions. And darn it, I think that a professional athlete needs to either play or retire, not sit on the sidelines for six months because he got an owie and a bunch of suits are scared of what might happen. All of this is connected to The Nanny State and The Wussification of America, things that I have touched on more than once. We may live longer now than we ever did, but do we live better?? Is it better to live life with gusto, have fun, take chances, and throw caution to the wind for 50 years or to crawl into the corner and be scared of our own shadow for 99 years?? The answer, as usual, is probably somewhere in the middle. It is fantastic that we have medications that can legitimately make us feel better and improve our quality of life, that we can make intelligent decisions rather than playing Indian poker with our hard earned money, and that we know that we probably should wear a light jacket or bring along our umbrella. But at the same time we cannot allow our lives to be taken over by microscopic examination of every detail. The 80’s classic Risky Business gave the masses some great advice: ““Every now and then say, ‘What the heck.’ ‘What the heck’ gives you freedom. Freedom brings opportunity. Opportunity makes your future.” If there is going to be a storm I’ll deal with it, but in the meantime I just really want to find out if Michael or Abby shot that scumbag Brandon or if it was in fact crazy mob boss Anthony Zacchara who we all know wants to take over the Corinthos Organization.

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