Like all of you, I too have noticed the trend over the last few years in regards to the medical field, at least here in America. That trend is, DRUGS! Lots of drugs. We’ve all seen the commercials… the constant barrage of commercials. Now, of course, we have come to accept this form of marketing. The only time we even seem to acknowledge it anymore is to poke fun at it with a few friends while watching a sporting telecast. But one day it hit me, that this really shouldn’t be something we should get used to. I think it was sometime around 1998 that I started to notice these commercials, at first, I didn’t think much of it. Actually, it wasn’t until I saw a commercial that I had no idea what the hell the drug was supposed to treat that I found myself in a complete state of confusion. I was presented with the vision of some random guy was walking alone, through a blossoming field of what looked to be marigolds, the music was soft and soothing, the camera panned around to capture some more of the landscape (more marigolds… I think), and then I heard a male voice-over telling me to ask my doctor if (insert drug’s name here) was right for me. To this day I still have no idea what the gentlemen portrayed in the commercial’s medical problem was. All I know is that I was supposed to ask my doctor if that drug is right for me.
It would be my guess that the advertising consultants tied in with the drug companies realized their mistake and are making it crystal clear what drug treats what condition, disease or symptom. Although now it seems that they (drug companies) are inventing medical conditions out of thin air and conveniently just happen to have the drug of choice to treat all these new conditions. Or perhaps, it’s the other way around, they invent the drug first, then run a bunch of tests to find out what it cures, treats or reduces, then proceed to explain to the public via television commercial (or radio ad, or print ad, or internet ad, etc, etc…) that we have a problem and therefore, need this new drug.
I admit that for a long while I neglected my body, while I have been an athlete all my life, I was not a fan of going to the doctor. Funny enough, it was about the same time that all the drug ads started making their way into my living room that I stopped going in for checkups, or letting a sporting injury heal itself such as a separated shoulder, multiple concussions, lacerations that I am certain needed stitches and so on. It wasn’t until I started to have moderate but constant back pain that I finally decided to find a primary care physician and see what was wrong. After all, bad backs run in my family, my older brother actually had surgery in his mid 20’s (mine started acting up almost exactly the day I turned 30, I am currently 32), while my father simply suffered through it ’til his last days.
Upon arrival and introduction, my doctor gave me a look over, said I probably strained it lifting something or playing Hockey (if you couldn’t tell from the injury list I provided above, that is my sport of choice). I tried to convince her that it’s not an injury, but it just hurts almost all the time, sometimes it’s hell and I can’t move while other times Advil takes care of it. She simply told me to continue taking Advil when it acts up. I decided to just accept her diagnosis despite telling her bad backs run in my family. She then moved on to the next subject at hand and had me have my blood checked for cholesterol. Turns out my cholesterol was indeed high and weighed in around 230. OK I admit, it was high and I did love to eat steak, fast food, chicken wings (hey, I live in Buffalo NY) and Pizza. I told her that I would obviously cut out the junk food and fried foods. That wasn’t good enough for my doctor though & I was immediately prescribed Lipitor. All of a sudden at age 30, I was one of these guys in those lousy drug commercials, the only thing I didn’t do was run through a field of Marigolds!
I explained to my doctor that I was completely against taking the drug. She insisted however and after bickering back and forth, I decided to take the prescription, although I was very disappointed with myself for doing so. Upon arriving home I decided to research Lipitor and what I found was non-comforting to say the least. I won’t go into it for fear of libel, but all you have to do is Google “Lipitor side affects” and you will have your fair share of reading material. To top it off, my back was killing me and Advil was not touching it.
Over the last couple of years since the first couple of visits with my then – new doctor, my back has gotten worse and getting something for the pain is almost impossible. My wife has actually forced me to go to the ER multiple times, which is the only way I can get anything in the form of a pain killer. My doctor has sent me for X-rays and of course, nothing shows up. I have even asked the ER doctors if there is anything they can do… I would even be willing to undergo surgery at this point. The ER staff were nice enough to explain that lower back pain (which is what I suffer from) is almost impossible to diagnose, the only thing you can do is try to manage the pain with meds, but the obvious problem with that are the drug seekers that abuse the system for a fix (thanks guys!)
Now my cholesterol has gotten better, without using Lipitor. I simply stopped eating fast, fried & junk foods while I continue to play Hockey & exercise. Even though my cholesterol count continues to drop with every visit, my doctor still persists on prescribing meds for my “condition” – yet, I continue to suffer from chronic back pain with no treatment, diagnosis or management. The last X-rays I was sent in for… I didn’t even get a call back with my results. I’m sure nothing showed up, but to at least call to tell me is only common courtesy.
It’s obvious that medicine has (in my opinion) become a racket run and dominated by the drug companies. The condition that plagues me with constant pain is virtually ignored by my doctor, while another condition that is well under control that most likely will not do me any harm gets all kinds of attention and I have drugs pushed in my face. I am certain that the day a drug is invented to treat chronic lower back pain, you can bet my doctor will call me at 3am if needs be, to tell me that the drug company has manufactured my cure, despite all the side affects that will most certainly be associated with it.
Meanwhile Cancer, Diabetes, Autism, Alzheimer’s (to name a few) are thriving, but it’s okay, because we can all rest assured that we now have the treatment for Restless Leg Syndrome! But enough sarcasm, If this is the future of modern medicine, good luck & God help us all!