I spent the majority of my adult career in the pharmaceutical industry. I had the distinct pleasure of working for multinational global companies and that lucky accident allowed me to see the world. I was significantly overpaid for what I did, but we in Canada pay so little for our healthcare, you probably didn’t notice this. As the U.S. struggles grasping the concept of universal healthcare, let us remind ourselves we have it pretty good up here in Canada. If you are sitting in the emergency ward of your local hospital, trying to get a doctor to look at your slightly painful ingrown toenail you might slightly disagree.
I admire people who feel it is their civic duty to give back to our society. I admire them but certainly don’t emulate them. My math skills always remind me that if everyone gave back to society there will be no one left to receive your generosity. Let’s call this “The Benevolent Law of Receivership”
Many of my friends who worked hard in other industries choose to corner me and complain about drug prices. If the room has no corners, they trap me against the nearest window and begin their well rehearsed bitching session with emotional conversations about the high cost of drugs these days. They rant on endlessly about regular drug price increases and how unfair this is on their budget. They continue with specific examples as they use technical terms likes marijuana, Chrystal meth, and cocaine. I try to explain that this is not the drug world I work in, but they continue moving to the solution phase of their argument with their innovative business plans of cheaper generic forms of heroin. I struggle to escape this one sided conversation. If I am on the first floor I jump out of the window, and decide I must upgrade my circle of friends ensuring this new group of friends has a more traditional legal drug benefit plan at their place of work.
Doctors will always counsel patients about how diet and exercise can eliminate the need for many prescription drugs. Patients will listen intensely to this sage advice and when the doctor has finally finished his list of non pharmaceutical solutions, the patient will look at their watch and quickly ask, “Is there a pill I can take, I am in a bit of hurry.”
New regulations in our country are forcing pharmacists to present a more comprehensive list of potential side effects that every prescribed molecule will cause. With every vial of pills a customer receives a 48 page print out of every potential effect the sick person might experience while taking the medicine. Since most patients never comply with the twice a day directions, the information is irrelevant, however for the very few who can read directions and religiously take the drug as prescribed, well let me just say, you are in for a real treat.
Page one of this document always includes head ache, constipation, diarrhea, nausea and everybody’s favourite, anal leakage as potential life style disturbances as a cost for better health. Further down list is the obligatory warning to the dangers of operating heavy machinery like your cuisinart while in treatment. It becomes very difficult to read the final pages of warnings, as blurred vision is a regular side effect of every drug you take.
Here are the rarer, but slightly more disturbing side effects from the current pharmaceutical drugs availble at your local pharmacy. Most of these appear on page 45 to 48 of your print out.
While taking your medication, if your fingers start to fall off, stop playing your acoustic guitar. To be fair your friends had asked you to stop playing your guitar hours ago.
If you start singing in a beautiful Scottish accent, order the haggis. The lady on the speaker of the drive through will ask if you would like fries with that order.
If you start obsessing over having exact change while waiting in the Starbucks line, well that will be the least of your problems! Your cafe mocha will taste surprisingly more like steeped tea as your tongue swells up. Oh and you will have significantly overpaid for your Starbucks order with that exact change.
You will have an uncontrollable compulsion to listen to your old Osmond Brother’s records and your heart will start skipping beats, just like a yoyo.
Fox News broadcasts will suddenly all begin to make sense. Stop your medication immediately and call an ambulance.
You will be convinced the brake pedal in your car is really your accelerator pedal. Cut the dose in half and start taking the bus.
You will start uncontrollably posting pictures of everything you do on Facebook. This is not a side effect of the drug, and a little reminder you were kind of annoying before you started your medication.
At cocktail parties, you will discover that you can’t stop talking about the things you watch on Netflix. Did you not read the warning that you could not mix your medication with alcohol? Pinot Grigio will double this effect.
If the directions on your prescription suggest to take one pill every twenty two minutes with water, this would be an excellent time to replace the filter on your Brita filtration jug.
You will get up early every day and create a “to do” list for your spouse. Before sharing this daily agenda with your partner offer them equal dosages of your medication to slightly increase the success of the execution of your list.
Never, correction always, no we right the first time, never try to attempt doing wheelies driving a fork lift truck while taking this medication. This might also be great advice even if your are not taking this medication though this important “fork lift” research has not yet been done.
If you find yourself taking the up escalator when your desire is to go down, call your pharmacist to ensure the label on your pill bottle was not accidentally put on upside down.
You will begin to have a deep understanding of Latin, check the expiry date to ensure it does not read July 1565.
If you begin to hallucinate during the first few days of therapy, return to your pharmacy and grab the original prescription and your doctor’s scribble will appear, clear, lucid and borderline comprehensible.
On your follow up visit with your doctor, while in the examining room 47 minutes later than your original appointment, you fall into a transcendental stare looking at the BMI chart. As you focus on the proper weight for your current height you will start chanting “skinny bitches” in a quiet rhythmic cadence.
When your diet pill label reads “Take with Food”, you will finally understand the literary term “Irony.”
Of course there are so many other side effects one might experience while taking any foreign substance. Currently in the United States, drug companies are permitted to advertise to the public as long as the announcer speaks quickly at the end of each ad, warning the TV audience of the danger of the medication. A one minute commercial never allows the spokesperson to get to page 45 to 48 of the side effects. In a controversial decision by the Supreme Court, the vote was unanimous to let anal leakage become an mandatory side effect broadcast to the public. Since the average age of the judges on the supreme court is 92 1/2 years old, one might suspect they are on every medication advertised and sadly, are in a highly constipated state… enthusiastically welcoming a regular bout of anal leakage.
Cue the Blong: Other common side effects of most drugs, are arrogance, lack of self awareness and undeserved over confidence in your decision making. This one is hardly noticeable with most men….