Friday, August 24, 2018

"Considering The Source"

Screenwriter William Goldman once famously proclaimed about the movie business, 

“Nobody knows anything.”

I’m beginning to think “nobody knows anything” about anything.

I have this (increasingly largening) compartmentalized pill container, holding a growing number of prescription drugs and nutritional supplements I habitually take every day. I say “habitually take” – especially about the nutritional supplements – because I do not know if they actually work.

(A Canadian cousin once asked his pharmacist father, “What do vitamins do?”  To which his father cynically – or accurately – replied, “Make money for the company.”  Who knows?  Perhaps vitamins are better today.  But people – meaning myself – take them regardless, applying the “chicken soup” rationale, “It won’t hoit.” Though there is the ongoing financial burden.  Taking nothing costs nothing. 

Okay, so there are the prescription pills – blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. – which annual checkups reveal are successfully doing the trick.  But even there – when professional “Doctuh People” instruct us to take stuff – we are not entirely in the clear. 

Prescription medicines can have worrying side-effects, many of which go regularly unmentioned by the personal M.D.’s who prescribed them.  (In contrast to TV ads, where the drug companies – either by law, or the drug company’s attorneys to preclude subsequent lawsuits – are required to list all the medicines’ possible side-effects, to the cowering chagrin of the viewers, even viewers who don’t take them. 

Who knows?  Some day, I may need a medicine that can induce “suicidal thoughts or actions.”  “Suicidal actions!?!”  

Drug Companies:  “Hey, at least we warned you.”

They’re right.  My doctor prescribed a medicine to treat one thing that, without mentioning the possibility, put me on track for something considerably worse.  I stopped taking the medicine, and the potentially “worse condition” immediately disappeared.  You know what?  I switched doctors.

Apparently, even the experts don’t know the whole story about prescribed courses of treatment. Suddenly, “It did nothing” sounds like a “Best Case Scenario.”

Though there are lots of medicines and supplement out there, I myself felt personally protected.  Inventorying my burgeoning pill container, I saw that everything I was taking had come scrupulously endorsed.

Let’s see now…

My former gym trainer insisted I take minerals.  (“Former” because she was crazy, but I still took her suggestion.)

My piano teacher touted a cold inhibitor.  (“Haven’t had one in years.”)

Our building contractor recommended turmeric, which I ignored.  Who listens to building contractors about health issues?  Piano teachers?  That’s a whole different story.

Examining the contents of my pill container reminded me how easily we can forget where the knowledge we assimilate and act upon originally came from, which, in this case, had me ingesting their untrained recommendations into my body.  

Seven days a week, I take pill promoted by my piano teacher.

Somebody – okay, somebody you take seriously; I’m not talking about loonies (“Every day, I swallow a penny with my orange juice.”) – anyway, somebody thinks they know something. (Perhaps picked up from somebody else.)  They convey this knowledge to somebody else, and now twopeople think they know something.  And on it goes – a widening ripple of transmitted wisdom, everyone in the expanding cohort thinking they know something.  

But do they? 

Consider the things we usedto know.

“No swimming until an hour after eating.”

“Conventional Wisdom” forever. 

Now we eat in the pool. 

A guy I knew played high school football.  Players were ordered not to drink water during sweltering summer practices. Ballplayers were dropping like flies; they’d call them “malingerers.”  “Take your salt tablets!” they were instructed.  Sun, salt and no water?  That passed for State-of-the-Art “Sports Medicine.”

“We didn’t know.”

We stilldon’t know.  I mean, we know about water, but for hundreds of other things?  

We’re them!

Which leads to “The Expanded Consideration.”

It’s easy to look through your pill case, remembering who originally told you what. It’s harder – harder still with the extending passage of time – to look in your brain and recall where your core thoughts and beliefs originally came from.  

The ideas that comes out of our mouths – are they originally our ideas?  Or are they repeated opinions, assimilated from believed “Reliable Sources” long ago, and we continue to spout them, now insisting they’re “our views”?

Just asking here, but wouldn’t it maybe be helpful if once in a while, we did some “Cranial Housekeeping”, dumping reflexively held ideas and opinions subsequently proven to be wrong?  Maybe they were right once.  Maybe they were neverright.  But doesn’t it all deserve an occasional scrutinizing “Revisiting”?

I’ll tell ya, sometimes, I rebel against passive acceptance of “Received Wisdom” and I aggressively take charge.  A while back, I stopped taking my piano teacher’s cold-stopping capsules, after I ran out.  

It felt good being the boss.

The thing is…  

I have gotten a few colds.

That’s what happens sometimes.

You get stubborn.

And you stop taking the wrong thing.


Mike T. said...

I’m not talking about loonies (“Every day, I swallow a penny with my orange juice.”)

Real loonies swallow a Canadian dollar with their orange juice.

JED said...

My mother lived alone until she broke her hip when she was 89. So, she came to live near us where we took care of organizing her pills (and other things). All her life, Mom complained that after she read the pills' side effects inserts, she found she was having those problems and would insist the doctor change the prescription. Then she'd read the new inserts and see those symptoms. So, after she moved here and we took over that part of her care, we didn't let her read the side effects inserts. Sadly, Mom died at 91 - about a year and a half after moving here and our taking over her care. Maybe having imagined illnesses was better than getting the real thing.