You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and you believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland. And, I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. ~ Lawrence Fishburne, The Matrix
Thirty years ago, chronic conditions were attributed to a much smaller subset of society. People who had anxious limbs were encouraged to cut down on chocolate and caffeine, get more exercise and perhaps drink more water. Drivers who became apoplectic at the reckless maneuvers of other drivers were “hot heads.” People who experienced the occasional down day were considered to be feeling “blue.” Older men needed to use the bathroom more frequently and people in high stress jobs often found themselves reading books at night, unable to fall asleep.
It’s taken years for me to realize that I grew up chronically ill. I had a short attention span, wiggled like a worm on a hook and wheezed when I ran, especially if I hadn’t exercised for weeks. My penchant to eat too many cookies, tell lies when confronted with a punishment, forget to do my homework, chase girls, suffer the occasional nightmare and routinely punch my little brother when he bugged me – were all chronic conditions that went undiagnosed for years. I do not have the heart to tell my parents that the punishments they meted out were visited upon a hopelessly sick child. Thanks to Mike Adams of Natural News and the pharmaceutical industry, I now understand that I suffered from restless leg syndrome, attention deficit disorder, exercise-induced asthma, low blood sugar, chronic denial, irrational attraction, recurring hallucinogenesis, and periodic anger. It’s a miracle I made it through elementary school.
The medieval treatment for many of these non-progressive conditions involved a leather strap around 36” long, applied vigorously to the afflicted child’s gluteus maximus until the symptoms ceased. Other therapies were administered with open hands or common household implements. Supplemental cures included total quarantine or gardening and the sanitation therapy of cleaning latrines.
Physicians today are generally appalled at these methods, as we now know each of these conditions can be resolved with a prescription drug. We now understand that our DNA strands are virtual Rosetta stones, revealing myriad predispositions to illness. As we further explore this final frontier of divine programming, we rapidly develop drug therapies to arrest these genetic troublemakers in their tracks. You can now travel to Canyon Ranch and, for a small fortune, identify genetic markers that indicate how you might metabolically respond to certain diets or drug therapies. You can answer such nagging questions as “Am I more likely to respond to a low-fat or a low-carb diet?” and “On which psychotropic drug am I less inclined to gain weight?” It’s all very uplifting.
While it is exciting to watch the evolution of genetic therapies lead to a next generation of “designer” drugs, we are also descending into an era of increased self-diagnosis – and an expanded definition of what it means to be “chronically ill.”
I can’t watch television anymore without seeing a luminescent butterfly gently raining pixie dust on an entire city of sleep deprived type A personalities. They awaken after a fresh Lunesta induced sleep, rested and ready to operate heavy machinery. The Flomax commercial makes me have to go to the bathroom. I am jealous of these fishing, biking, and rafting crazies who spray each other with water and have not used the rest room in four days. Going to the bathroom never seemed so fun. High cholesterol and acid reflux ads show people eating pizza, cookie dough and possibly dirt while dropping their LDL lower than a Marin County vegetarian. And there are the ads dealing with, well, how should I say, erectile dysfunction. Everyone looks really, really…really happy. The men are mischievous and the women are playfully coy. The mood music is playing when suddenly, 50 of your closest friends drop in. But don’t worry; you will be on your game, potentially for the next 20 hours.
As we enter the 21st century, we must not let up. We must push for new therapies. Research is already underway for the following progressive conditions:
• Combat Disassociation Disorder – CDC affects millions. It is characterized by a complete disregard for the fact that your nation is at war. Symptoms include lack of concentration on issues relating to foreign policy, energy or deficit spending. In extreme cases, a CDC sufferer may attempt Richard Nixon impersonations.
• Situational Narcolepsy Syndrome – The drug industry hopes to eradicate this crippling condition that impacts one in two adult males worldwide. To quote an industry insider, “The market for an SNS cure is huge!” The condition is characterized by men absorbing less than 50% of information conveyed to them by their spouse or significant other. In clinical trials, a combination of drug therapy and super amplified hearing aids has shown remarkable success. A typical SNS sufferer might hear, “Honey, I need you to…Stamford…Johnny and Timmy…don’t forget…5 p.m.” After clinical trials, the same respondent was able to absorb the following: “Honey, I need you to get to Stamford by 4:30 to pick up Johnny and Timmy. Be sure to tell Carol that Timmy does not need a ride to soccer and call Sarah and tell her to walk to Starbucks at 5 p.m. I will pick her up there.”
• Vicarious Delusion Syndrome – The Fairfield County Athletic Association has recently contributed venture capital to JSU (Just Shut Up) Biosolutions, a biotech research lab focusing on therapies to treat individuals who attempt to live vicariously through the athletic careers of their children. VDS is characterized by fits of anger and limited peripheral vision. Hearing is often impaired and public outbursts may be followed by periods of profound social and personal alienation. Clinical trials have shown the experimental drug Justagame to work on the most advanced cases of VDS – parents who hang out at the local fields even when they have no children playing.
Thankfully, our friends in the biotech and pharma industries are hard at work to attack these and other illnesses. Imagine a future of malleable teenagers, attentive spouses, cooperative coaches and civilized spectators. Consider a life where you can sit through an entire episode of The Hills with your teenager without feeling nauseated.
It’s just around the corner, and I can’t wait. In the meantime, I will have to deal with anxiety, uncertainty, stress and anger the old fashioned way – through exercise, traditional medications and eating right. Tomorrow can’t get here soon enough for me. Actually, I’ve been told my constant preoccupation with the future is an undiagnosed case of Random Anticipatory Anxiety Syndrome; soon it, too, will be treated.
Better living through modern chemistry. Thank heavens!