Some of the best horror on television today is in the disclaimers in pharmaceutical commercials. The images are of healthy, happy people doing healthy, happy things as the voice-over reads a long list of possible terrifying side effects of the medication. I’m usually shaking uncontrollably somewhere between “vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath” and “peeling skin, tuberculosis and sometimes fatal events.”
Once I calm down, I realize it’s all quite simple. All you really need to know is that the drug might help you, but it might also kill you.
So there. Take your meds, and sleep well.
Likewise, some of the best comedy on television today is also in pharmaceutical commercials. It is the giant laugh line where the narrator says, “If you develop these side effects, see your doctor right away.”
Ha, ha, ha, ha!
Where do these people live?
Who gets to see their doctor right away?
The last time I called our doctor’s office with an illness I thought I should be seen for, I was put on hold. A few minutes later a voice said, “Go to an urgent care clinic.”
I don’t blame the doctor’s office. It was my fault for not anticipating a day, six weeks down the road, to have sudden onset of a deep barking cough, nasal congestion and piercing ear pain, so I could book an appointment. But no, I dilly-dallied around until I actually had a horrible chest cold and sinus infection and as a result was not able to be seen.
I’m not saying it is always difficult to get in to see our doctor, but we now list Urgent Care as our primary care physician.
People having adverse side effects from prescription drugs aren’t going to have any better luck getting in to see the doctor than we are. Perhaps the commercials could be amended to say, “If you experience a side effect, jump in your car and start praying that the nearest immediate care clinic has not closed for the day.”
Of course, that will be your fault, too, for not timing your illness before the close of business hours.
By the way, in the name of honesty, a lot of Minute Clinics should be renamed An Hour or More.
To be completely honest, it’s not like we never see our doctor. We ran into him at the movie theater about a month ago.
We exchanged hellos, and he asked how we were. We both said, “Fine.”
He nodded as though he agreed, so we both assume that sufficed as our annual physicals.
A friend who had been in the hospital was trying to tell me which urgent care clinic had seen her before telling her to go directly to the emergency room.
“The one by the library?” I asked.
“No, that one was closed.”
“The big one up north affiliated with the hospital?”
“They were closed, too.”
“The little urgent care clinic next to the big beautiful veterinary clinic with the huge sign that says, ‘Open 24 Hours’?”
“Yep. We got there 10 minutes before closing.”
I’ll let you figure out the irony of that on your own.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.