Weatherford Democrat

Viewpoints

August 20, 2012

COLUMN: Better living through chemistry

— When many of us were youngsters back in the 1940s and ‘50s, there wasn’t much need for a great deal of medical care. For most adolescents, the only time we ever saw a doctor was to get stitches or set a broken bone. We got a few “baby shots,” a polio shot in the ‘50s, and perhaps a tetanus shot if we were playing barefooted and stepped on a rusty nail.

As we older folks begin to start showing our age more and more, the need for medical care becomes more acute. Unlike me, my Grandpa Jones was quite a healthy specimen right up until his death at almost 90 years old. I suppose much of his longevity can be attributed to a lot of hard manual labor on the farm. He also had no problems with alcohol or tobacco use, and in addition he had to have had overall good genes. Dr. Russell used to prescribe him a “rest medicine” pill for his aches and pains, and if he was having a “sick spell” from the consumption, he’d prescribe some penicillin — “pen-cil’-yen” as Grandpa called it. Having been discovered only a few years before he died, Grandpa thought of it as a miracle drug. When compared to the average elderly person of today, he took almost no medications.

About 10 years ago during a doctor visit, I was told that my cholesterol and my blood pressure were both getting a bit high. I was also informed that I two options to resolve my dilemma. I could either radically change my lifestyle and eating habits or I could take a couple of pills each morning. After carefully studying the situation for just under a nanosecond, I decided to become a drug addict.

I’ve read that America has become the most overmedicated society in the history of the world, and that only takes into consideration the legal prescription drugs. Factor in the illicit dope trade, and it’s no wonder we’re rapidly destroying the greatest nation of all time. Medication side effects are supposedly the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. annually. In addition, over 100,000 of these deaths are a result of taking medications correctly, as prescribed. If we actually knew how many other mistakes were covered up, I’m sure we’d be astounded.

Today there seems to be a pill for everything — if not, just wait until next month and big pharmaceutical corporations will provide one. These drug manufacturers flood the airwaves with ads and have an army of attractive well-dressed representatives scouring the facilities of healthcare providers to ensure the prescription drug trafficking goes on to the next level. Instead of being taught discipline and respect, our children are being medicated to control behavior. A huge segment of the population is taking antidepressant medication to be able to cope with today’s stresses. Others, like me, instead of changing diet and behavior, choose to take pills instead.

Just like Ponce de Leon, we’re all looking for the Fountain of Youth, and the easy way to get there. There seems to be a magic potion just around the corner for all our woes. We just have to figure out how to find it. Hey, maybe there’s an app for it that I can download to my smart phone. If I had one...

Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy Commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to nowhearthis@pwhome.com.

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