The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle

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Side Effects

on August 15, 2012

I picked up my prescription refill the other day and found myself glancing over the list of possible side effects listed on the information sheet from my pharmacy. I have been taking this particular prescription, or a close derivative of it, for twenty years and have never had a problem so I’m not exactly sure why I thought I needed to review the possible side effects now. Well you never know. I could have been having a side effect all these years and didn’t know it.  Since “warped personality” wasn’t listed I guess I’m safe. I do wonder though if my tiredness has something to do with my prescription. It couldn’t have anything to do with three kids and a job and well, you know, a life, could it? As I was mentally checking off the possible side effects it occurred to me that perhaps it isn’t always good to see a list. Sometimes what you don’t know is a good thing.

I travel back  a few years when one of the seasoned saints in our church who is a bit of a hypochondriac (ok – she’s a lot of a hypochondriac) was telling me all about her concern over a new prescription the doctor gave her husband.  The conversation went a little like this: “Can you be praying for (husband’s name)? The doctor gave him new medication and it says it can cause a stroke.” Me (trying to not grow weary) “What did they give him?”  Her: “This stuff called ibuprofen.” At this juncture I am fairly certain that my eyes bulged from their sockets.  I really couldn’t help the next thing that came out of my mouth: “You mean ADVIL?!” Her: “No. Ibuprofen.” Me: “Yeah. That’s what Advil is.  They sell it over the counter.” Her: “Well this is a really high dose. 800 mg.” Me (again snickering): “Yeah. My husband takes that many for a headache. I think (husband’s name) will probably be just fine.”   This is just one of many similar conversations I have had with this dear lady over the years.  I really want to call her pharmacy and ask them to quit printing out the side effect sheets for her prescriptions.  She reads them and worries about them. It makes ME need to take ibuprofen and heaven knows I don’t need to risk a stroke.

I totally understand why drug manufacturers have to list all the possible side effects on everything they produce. We live in a sue-happy society.  Has anyone not heard the commercials that start “If you or a loved one have taken the prescription drug (fill in the blank)…. ”  Actually I heard a new one the other day that was fairly interesting.  It started like this: “If you or a male family member were on the antipsychotic drug (please don’t expect me to remember the name. Or be able to spell it for that matter.) and have developed breasts you may be entitled to compensation.”  What??  While I understand that this would be disconcerting, let’s put this in perspective: develop breasts or become a serial killer.  Tough choice.  

I’m thinking perhaps we need to start listing possible side effects for everything  just so people will know what could happen. 

  • On candy bars: Side effects could include expansion of the waistline resulting in the need for new clothes.  Discontinue use at first sign of clothes tightening and consult the fresh fruit aisle.
  • On soda: Side effects could include hyper-activity and sleeplessness especially in younger people.  Discontinue use at the first sign of caffeine induced hysteria and drink some water for heaven sake.
  • On the car: Side effects could include poor driving which can result in a fiery crash.  If you have a history of poor driving please consult the driver’s manual before putting other lives at risk.
  • On Alarm Clocks: Side effects of waking up could include wanting to hurt those around you and expose you to a bad day.  Do not get out of bed if you are prone to grumpiness.  Consult your physician should symptoms persist.  He has drugs for that.

Ok. Perhaps that isn’t such a great idea.  Perhaps bliss IS a side effect of ignorance.

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