Some Side Effects Reported

The fit and vivacious middle-aged woman is joyfully frolicking across the sand, the gentle waves lapping away at her bare feet.  The camera pans back slightly and we see a frisky Labrador Retriever running playful circles around her.  The deep-toned voice of the announcer reminds us that this woman is able to live a full and productive life thanks to the latest advances in pharmaceutical science.

Fade to black and come back into focus to find a group of older men peddling their competition racing bicycles up a steep mountainside,  The sun is shining brightly as they reach the crest of the peak and pull over to sip their energy drinks and slap each other on the back.  The very same voice echos through the television speakers to inform us that these gentlemen are fully functional in the bedroom; thanks once again the major prescription drug companies!

About this time, I am picturing these geriatric testosterone-laden men riding their bicycles across the beach in pursuit of middle-aged women who no longer have to worry about their cholesterol.  Trust me folks, my daydream goes downhill from there!  I am getting ready to hit the Internet in pursuit of a pair of bicycle racing shorts and a sponsored jersey when that unique announcer’s voice snaps me out of my daydream!

Some side effects have been reported by patients using “XXXXXXXX.”  (Notice how I cleverly managed to avoid a defamation suit by masking the brand name of the drug?)  Elevated blood pressure, blurred vision, headaches, cramps, vomiting, unusual bruising, constipation, diarrhea, unexplained urges to eat dog food, fur balls, and unsightly back hair have been reported by users of this product.  You brace yourself for the inevitable final disclaimer!  “In rare instances, death has been reported in patients using this product.”

The first natural thought is to ask yourself if the benefits of the pharmaceutical outweigh the plethora of potential side-effects.  Personally, I think I can live with the aches of rheumatoid joint pain, given the alternative of meeting my maker prematurely!  The second thought is to wonder why the announcer’s monotone voice does not change pitch or emotion as he moves from listing irritating side effects to suggesting that he has a free one way ticket for you to meet the Grim Reaper!

If you buy into the pharmaceutical conglomerate mentality; there is no side-effect that should ever stand in the way of the miraculous effects of their latest overpriced drug.  The odds are in your favor that you will not be part of the ill results minority.  But even if you  bet both black and red on the roulette wheel at Caesar’s Palace; there is a one in thirty-seven chance that the silver ball will come to rest on the green “0.”

What if life came with a full disclosure of all the potential side-effects associated with the decision you were about to make?  Imagine if every person you met had to list all of the ill effects that could befall you as a result of your association with them.  Would you be able to make an informed decision as to how greatly the benefits outweighed the risks?  Yes, the predictable warning about rare instances of death would always be the last statement made!  By the way, the annoying bass announcer voice would always be there to rattle off the entire list of possible side-effects.

I am relatively confident that I would be most dangerous human being on this planet if my every choice were pre-qualified by the possible ramifications of my actions.  I would spend my every waking moment analyzing how to best maximize my benefits and minimize my risks.  I would never make a wrong decision.  I would never be hurt or disappointed.  I would always be doing what was best for me.  I would never be alone; instead, having the announcer as my constant companion!  Then again, I might be overwhelmed by it all and simply spend the rest of my life hiding under the bed covers.

Full disclosure of all consequences in life seems appealing on the surface.  But the essence of humanity is that we make mistakes, and they give us an opportunity to learn and grow.  Disappointment is as much a part of you as hope is.  Pain is every part as formative as healing.  The beauty of our time on this Earth is that our weaknesses can be transformed into our strengths.

Along the way, we are given the greatest potential risk any of us could ever hope to face!  Each of us has the chance to share of ourselves with everyone we meet.  Sure, there is the potential for rejection and we are possibly setting ourselves up for hurt.  Then again, the benefit is that we might just better ourselves as we better those we meet.

The good news is, “death has not been reported in any users of this product!”  By the way, I would be pleased to be honored to be your personal announcer.

About Jerry V. Dollar, Author, Humorist, Observer of the Human Condition

When not trekking around the globe, Jerry Dollar can be found in Colorado Springs, CO where he lives with his wife Robbi. Besides an affinity for writing and travel; he is also an avid bodybuilder, a very prolific reader, and an enthusiastic observer of the human condition. Jerry has published two books which are available on: Lulu, Amazon, Kindle, Nook, and IBook. "Announcing a Flight Delay" is a hilarious recap of the author's experiences as a million mile flyer. "A Dollar's Worth" is a collection of observations on the human condition, which originally appeared as blog posts. Dr. Dollar has served in various senior executive management capacities over the past 25 years. He has previously worked within the healthcare, insurance, software, and several other high technology industries. Jerry is recognized for his expertise in creating the foundations for emerging organizations to succeed in complex sales environments. He is also well known for his leadership in guiding technology companies through rapid growth phases. Jerry speaks five languages and has conducted business in over 70 countries on six continents. He holds particular expertise in the Latin American and Western European geographic areas. Dr. Dollar holds a BA in International Affairs, a BA in Spanish, an MBA in Marketing, and a PhD in Organizational Development. He has authored numerous professional articles, various training courses, and has conducted seminars and conferences around the world.
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9 Responses to Some Side Effects Reported

  1. Very nice post, Jerry. I love the concept of a side effects disclaimer when we meet a person or make a decision.
    I, too, have noted that the side effects in those commercials seem to have gotten much worse than the symptoms being treated.

  2. Ultra Sounds says:

    Hi Jerry,

    Because of my illness, I take a great deal of medication. I was often hesitant to start new drugs in the early years because of the long list of side effects. In fact I put off taking one of the most effective drugs for that very reason. I soon learned that most of the disclaimers did not come to pass. I learned that I needed to simply trust my doctors when they told me I should take a certain drug and let them worry about the side effects. Essentially I stopped reading the warnings and I’m so much happier and healthier for it.

    If I extrapolate that to life, as you have done, then indeed the same things applies. Once you have a trust in someone or in a situation, you just can’t worry about the side effects, you simply need to go for it. Otherwise you become paralysed. Besides, some of the situations that involved the hardest fall also gave me the biggest lesson. We just cannot control everything and are much happier when we stop trying.

    thanks for another thoughtful post.


  3. Gemma Aymar says:

    I love your writing style genuinely enjoying this site. “We must use time as a tool, not as a couch.” by John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

  4. Daron Henson says:

    Wonderfully written article Jerry. I enjoyed the narrative that tested the boundries of nonfiction and fiction.

  5. w1z111 says:

    Love this one, Jerry! I must say, I’m with you on some of the Big Pharma stuff…the way the ads “play-down” some of the worst of the ‘possible side effects’ just to ensure potential patients (yes, ‘money-spending-patients’, of course!) will not be discouraged by those things (not discouraged by the possibility of death? Hello!? Really?!). Granted, as Samantha alludes, some of the medications out there are truly miraculous in what they can do to help with relief and healing of some diseases or ailments.

    However, I believe many diseases and ailments we contract may not necessarily be “accidental”, if you get my meaning. I am convinced that we are, quite literally, products of our environment, our habits, our culture, our fast-food-mentality, our stress-filled work environment, and, of course, all the pollutants and “body-burden” chemicals we are exposed to through consumption and use of everyday products…even including many food items. See also, for more on “body-burden” and related research data.

    What a vicious-circle it is…and, if we allow ourselves to view it from the pessimist’s viewpoint, what a fantastic money-making machine! I dare not lodge any “specific accusations”, but I cannot understand how we can allow manufacturers to create products with ingredients that are “known to cause harm”. Perhaps I’m ‘old-fashioned’, perhaps I’m ignorant and gullible, but I believe our present system of health-and-well-being (at least in America) is sadly driven by profits, and not by what people really need for maintaining good health.

    It becomes a bit “insulting” at times, when we realize that many things we become exposed to are slowly-but-surely killing us…unless we take steps on our own to help prevent that. If we eat only “certified organic” foods; use only pure, natural, “safe” products for household (and other) cleaning; build our homes with materials which do not pose health-risks; drink only pure water (if it’s even available these days); and otherwise avoid all the other “damaging-exposures” out there…then, maybe, we can live life in relatively good health. Of course, there are other measures we should also take, like exercise and such…but, isn’t it a little scary to think we have (at least) two strikes against us most of the time?

    Then, to beat all, we are asked to “help support research and progress toward ending ______” (fill in the blank with your choice: breast (or any other) cancer, diabetes, heart disease, ADHD, ADD, Alzheimer’s, MS, MD, etc., etc. — the list goes on — no shortage of diseases, for sure). There’s that ‘vicious-circle’ again…we pay to use dangerous and health-damaging products; we pay to get medications and other healthcare for damages very likely caused or exacerbated by some of those products; we pay to help with research toward eliminating diseases which may well be related to some of those products”…very sinister indeed, don’t you think? And, this doesn’t even take into account how we also “pay with our very health” because of some of these things.
    Well, I’ve ‘rambled-on’ quite enough…sorry to take up so much of your blog-space, but I just wanted to thank you for your interest and your take on something I, too, am passionate about.
    I’m just sayin’…
    See also for more of my ‘ramblings’ on this.
    For some other similar ‘ramblings’, visit
    Thanks, again, for your commentary on this important issue facing our culture today.

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