Tonight, while watching an episode of “Smash,” I was surprised to see an old friend of mine on the small screen. The friend, you ask? Evil P! Yes, good ol’ prednisone has made it to prime time! Suffering from inflamed vocal chords, Smash’s main character is forced to take the “miracle drug” in order to keep the lead role in a musical. When she laments the “ape-like” hair growth and weight gain that is sure to come, her friends make light of it as though it were akin to popping a Tylenol. She goes against her instincts and takes it, which causes a hallucination and mood swings.
I appreciated how the episode showed some of Evil P’s real side effects and how stressful and sometimes terrifying it can be for the person who is taking it. However, there was still a sense of normalcy and acceptance to the side effects she displayed. I can’t blame the show for that, however, considering this is society’s general attitude towards taking prescription medication. I try to take a balanced approach to this issue, especially in light of the fact that Evil P helped bring me back to the “Land of the Pain-Free.” I know that as a patient, you must weigh the risks and benefits of every drug you take, but that kind of analysis only comes with time and requires a sound and peaceful mind, not one that has just been diagnosed with something you don’t understand. I’ve taken many drugs with side effects like cancer, psychosis, infertility, and blood clots to name a few. In fact, taking one particular drug almost killed me. I’m not saying that these drugs don’t help people or that if in another life threatening situation I wouldn’t take it, I’m saying that more often than not, these “quick fixes” are used much longer than they should or they are taken much too casually. We’re told from a very young age that it’s normal to take medication. My doctor says to me regularly that I should keep taking my meds for “upkeep” since it’s working so well, but never tells me what to do so my body produces what it needs on it’s own. And when I am tapered off of it, there are no additional instructions. We just cross our fingers and hope that symptoms don’t come back. Prescription medicine has it’s place in our world, but it shouldn’t be touted as the only answer, or more importantly, the first answer. Creating more disease to cure another is not normal … or at least it shouldn’t be.
In the episode, the character does receive another treatment choice; rest. Due to busy lives and careers, that option seems like a luxurious and impossible one. As a result, we must choose a risky convenience over health and well-being. As for me, I’m making it a serious priority to create a life where I’ll never have to choose between the life I want to live and my health. What can I say? Like a true Gemini, I want it all. :)