A pill for every ill

Anyone who watches television advertising (and truthfully more and more, I just mute the malarkey) would be left with the impression that there is a pill for every ill, a lotion for every blemish, and a contraption for every complaint.

More than other advertisements, the erectile dysfunction ads have me shaking my head. They want you to be ready all the time, every time, morning noon and night, “when the moment is right” for you know what. I certainly know that lovemaking is essential to relationships and to the continuation of the race, but is it so important that we always have to be ready – 24-7? Isn’t there more to life than shagging – as the Brits say?

But it’s not just the erectile dysfunction ads, there are ads for pills to help you pee less. They have pills that keep you from running to a bathroom from the bleachers at a ball game, from the fairways on the golf course, or from a courtroom trial. You can get these pills on the Internet. (We’re not talking here about pills prescribed by doctors for folks who need to pee more.)

TV advertises lotions for acne and dark spots, in a few weeks the ad implies your skin will be as unblemished as a baby’s bottom. I’m skeptical; I wonder what dermatologists think of these over-blown claims? I’d bet they’re skeptical too. Dermatologists have effective treatments for such conditions.

Then there are special pillows for uncomfortable bottoms. Three-ply pillows with the middle level a special jell. If your bottom hurts, what’s wrong with a plain old feather pillow? Does anyone really think this new thingamajig is progress and an asset (pun intended) for civilization?

And did you ever notice that the ads say that we’ll send you a second jar, bottle or gizmo free – you only have to pay for additional shipping and handling. They don’t tell you how much shipping and handling is, but you can bet your fanny pillow that the second jug is not really free.

Then there are drugs to help you sleep. And monster energy drinks to keep you awake. Neither work as effectively – or as harmlessly as the ads imply.

There are contraptions for every complaint. There are chairs that get you around like go-carts. And the ads claim that Medicaid or Medicare will pay for them. There are gizmos for diabetics to test their blood and the “best part is you don’t have to prick your finger anymore.” Why do we Americans want to avoid every, little pain, inconvenience or discomfort? There aren’t any “silver bullets” to avoid living – and pain is part of life.

And none of these pills, gizmos or surgeries is risk free. Just listen to the disclaimers on some of those ads. They spell out the possible side effects; lawyers make them do it. For example, there are possible rashes, blood infections, nervous system complications (rarely fatal – isn’t that reassuring?), and allergic reactions.

Then they tell you if this happens, call your doctor right away. Did you ever try that? First, you talk to the secretary, who’ll have the nurse or physician’s assistant get back to you. If you’re lucky the nurse will get back the same day only to tell you he/she will have to consult with the doctor. Before you finally get an answer, you are in the emergency room – or in the morgue.

And why do we seek all kinds of remedies to deny and delay the aging process? Aging is inevitable. No pill, healer, or surgeon can prevent it.

I know plastic surgery is a necessary and legitimate medical specialty. Most plastic surgery is not merely cosmetic. It does wonders for burn victims and those disfigured in accidents. God bless these surgeons and their healing work. But do we really need tummy tucks, nose jobs, boob jobs, butt jobs, fat suctions, and face-lifts? Such surgery might feed our vanity, but it merely postpones the inevitable. Like it or not, our lives go by like the fog before the sun. Life, as the hymn says, is “a short embrace.”

What would the great spiritual masters say about all this nonsense? “Three things can not be long hidden,” says the Buddha, ” the sun, the moon – and the truth.” And Jesus said, “The truth will make you free” (John 8:31). Free from all this advertising nuttiness.

Daniel O’Rourke lives in Cassadaga, New York. His column appears on the second and fourth Thursday each month. A grandfather, Dan is a married Catholic priest. His new book, “The Living Spirit” is a collection of previous columns. To read about that book or send comments on this column visit his website www.danielcorourke.com/