the positive side-effects of watching commercials on side-effects..

Don't skip the TV Commercials on medications - there could be a positive side-effect to watching them...

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I was watching CBS News Sunday Morning hosted by Jane Pauley – also known as 60 Minutes lite, when I noticed a curious phenomenon. All the commercials that transpired with a few exceptions, are about some form of an over the counter or prescription drug. This is nothing new we have been subjected to this since the early days of TV commercials when aging gruff actors suffering from nothing more than a bad case of indigestion – told us to buy Alka-Seltzer. I still can remember the ear worm jingle “Plop plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is.” Television has continued to advertise various tablets, creams, serums and ointments for whatever ails us, but perhaps what is refreshing and what has evolved aside from the sophistication of these readily available newer wonder drugs – is that the actors portrayed in these current ads are noticeably younger, ecstatically active and so encouragingly vibrant! While these seemingly medicated people are plagued with conditions ranging from severe psoriasis, migraines, diabetes, blood clots, shingles, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s, relentless metastatic breast cancer, and an avalanche of others – one thing stood out – none of these actors in these commercials appear even remotely hindered by their assigned diseases or viruses. In fact, while undergoing their treatments, the majority find themselves still able to volunteer their time with Habitat for Humanity. While those less energetic are viewed tending to their all herbal gardens, pushing stubborn wheelbarrows. The ones with joint pain, are completing their triathlon and graciously accepting their Olympic medals! Shingle sufferers are no slackers either, not letting open secreting sores stop them from giving that all important budget presentation. The ones that are getting the short end of the stick in comparison are the living with bipolar and depression group, as they are depicted as only able to get in a morning jog before putting in a full day at work, and later in the evening preparing an elaborate dinner for family and friends until the commercial ends with them finally taking in a meditative sunset. Then there are ads for perhaps lesser known diseases like pseudobulbar affect (PBA) a disorder that I immediately diagnosed myself with after watching the commercial. It is a neurological brain disorder characterized predominately with episodes of uncontrollable crying and/or laughing. I’m pretty certain that I was once escorted out of my poor 10 year old niece’s first piano recital, because I got unfortunately struck with an attack of the worst convulsive giggles, something I am adversely prone to whenever a room grows seriously quiet or somber. This onslaught of drug commercials and the buffet of various diseases and disorders we are repeatedly exposed to has not only been effective in expanding our knowledge of pharmaceutical options but has also perhaps heightened our pre-existing anxieties. A former boss of mine liked to quote Woody Allen by telling me “no one gets of this world alive!” and aside from stating the obvious, the reality is that something is going to afflict us at some point in our hopefully long lives. I cannot imagine what it is like to go through any of these adversities seen on these commercials but they remind me daily to be so grateful for the health I do have while applauding all those that in the real world face their challenges head-on with intrepidity and tenacity. You are the true non-acting hero’s demonstrating daily that it can be achieved and overcome. The one common denominator that all these drug and disease related commercials seem to convey – aside from the fact that the side effects from everything might kill you– is that nothing should stop you from living your best healthy life and doing what brings you happiness. Maybe we could all benefit from being reminded once in a while not to wait for a tragic diagnosis to make a positive change and attack that bucket list. No ad necessary for this easy pill to swallow.

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