Sunday, August 20, 2006 

Take a Pill

So pretty. So colourful. So available.

All of my home medication fits in one small basket on top of my microwave. If you were to look inside today, you'd find some headache pills, indigestion tablets, allergy medicationvitamins, anti-bacterial creams, cough syrup, some anti-itch spray and, of course...Band-Aids. This list of supplies has remained relatively unchanged for the past 8 years and it's served my family well. Every now and again, I had prescriptions filled for some antibiotics for the more persistant viruses.

I believed I had a well-stocked home pharmacy until I started watching TV here in Canada. Instead of being bombarded with car and weight loss commercials during prime time viewing, I am now subjected to countless advertisements for prescription drugs.

I am told to consult my doctor for medications to help me sleep at night, to improve my sex life, to help my loved ones battle urinary incontinence, psoriasis, high blood pressure and a host of other medical problems. There seems to be a drug for everything and all I need to do is choose which ailment I have and get him to prescribe the specific drug for it. Even better, I can play doctor and pick a drug for my loved one as well and cure them too.

This can't be good.

I do not feel reassured knowing that pharmaceutical companies are no longer content directly influencing doctors to prescribe their drugs, but they are hell bent on influencing people with absolutely no medical background to demand medication they know nothing about except their mistaken belief that they'll be able to live happily ever after if they consume it.

Promoting healthy eating and exercising have taken a back seat to the quick-fix remedies of taking pills for all that ails you. It's doubtful that people would even be affected by stronger heathy lifestyle advertising campaigns anyway since it's so much more time consuming. Why bother going through the trouble of cutting down on fatty foods or stress when you can just take a pill to control it? The pharma companies rely on our own failure to regulate our lives and we're more than happy to let them do it...even if the side-effects outweigh the benefits of their medications.

The only upside to a drugged-up nation is that PETA won't have to protest animal testing at drug labs anymore. The drug companies have millions of willing human guinea pigs instead.

With all the advertising pressure drug companies use to push their products, how can I be sure if I actually NEED the drug I'm prescribed let alone whether it's any good for me? When profits and money are the motivating factors behind my health and well-being, I worry. I know it won't concern them since they have a drug for that too.

Thursday, August 10, 2006 


The Universal Currency: Beer

Has it really been 3 weeks since I wrote my last post? I ought to be ashamed of myself. In fact, I would be if I didn't have a really good reason for my absenteeism from the blogosphere. Well, at least I think I have a good reason...moving into my new house.

Moving is difficult enough when you stay in the same country but when you change countries, especially from Europe to North America, there's a lot more work to do. The biggest thing being our appliances. We took most of them with us and since they all work on 220 volts, we had to source and buy adaptors and transformers to ensure they work in Canada. It wasn't cheap but I'm happy to report that my frappe maker works along with the 'inconsequential' things like my husbands home cinema.

I also wasted alot of time just shopping for routine household products like cleaning supplies and food. When there seem to be a hundred different brand names and prices for everything, it takes me forever to choose just one. I'm still thinking in euros and doing the conversions back to Canadian dollars to see if I'm getting a good deal on something. And manufacturers don't make it any easier by selling their products in odd volumes and weights. Instead of buying 1 kilo of rice, it's now a 900g box for one brand and 850g for another or 975mL of liquid soap instead of a litre. It gives me a headache.

Then there's the metric system. In Canada, we converted to the metric system years ago but you'd never know it since produce is still advertised in imperial units on the shelves (with the metric equivalent in microscopic print on the bottom of the signage) and at the cashier, it's back to metric when you pay for it. My husband has a really hard time with it when he's buying hardware which is still sold predominantly in inches and yards.

One good thing about living here is that the cost of a worker's tip is still a beer. When a neighbour offered to mow our lawn for us, I asked how much it would cost and he replied, "a cold beer". When the movers brought in our last box, my husband offered them a cash tip and they all said "thanks, but do you have a beer?" My own father solved our leaky laundry room pipes last night at midnight and all he wanted was a beer for his efforts.

Now, if only there were a 'beer' option when paying for a restaurant bill tip through direct debit, I'd have it made.