“You can’t afford to be sick!”
I hate these ads.
You’ve seen them. They’re in newspapers and regional magazines across the country. Some smiling mom and her cute kid. It’s an ad for some local clinic, always with a tagline like “You can’t afford to be sick!” or “You don’t have time to be sick!”
And they list things they treat, like headache, sore throat, ankle sprain, runny nose, and skinned knees. They make no mention of heart attack. Or accidental amputation. Or arrow through the head.
It’s so comically misleading. As if there’s something abnormal about being sick. Face it. The germs outnumber us. Being sick is part of the price of doing business of Earth. We all catch the crud here and there. And we all trip and fall, spraining this and scraping that.
These ads give the impression that it’s horribly abnormal to catch some mild illness or suffer a minor injury. Better yet, they make it sound like they can magically fix you, like they’re going to wave a wand, and the germs will suddenly vanish or you’ll grow new skin immediately.
All they do is give you Sudafed, Tylenol, or a band-aid, (which you could have bought yourself) and bill your insurance.
What really peeves me is that this enforces a cultural dependency on medical care. Yes, I’m a doctor. Medical care is how I earn a living. And there are certainly many conditions where you absolutely, positively, should see a medical professional. And I know sometimes it’s hard to know what’s what.
But did your Mom send you to the doctor for every little thing? Probably not. She sent you to bed, gave you some Tylenol, and told the school you were out. Or she gave you Tylenol and sent you to school.
And I’m willing to bet you felt a hell of a lot sicker at some point in college, after toga night at McBarfy’s house of cheap beer. And you didn’t see a doctor for that, either.
We have a lot of treatments in medicine. But the majority of things you get in your everyday life will get better with or without a doctor.
“The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.”
Voltaire wrote that around 250 years ago. And, for the most part, I won’t argue with him.
Doctor Grumpy is a neurologist who blogs at Doctor Grumpy in the House.
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