Monday, March 24, 2014

It's What They Say, Not What They Do

Ever hear of Victoza? Sounds like a Mafia hit man, right? "Get Vic Toza on it."
It's actually a pharmaceutical, for Type II diabetes. I learned about it
last Sunday while watching Face the Nation on CBS, which I had recorded.

This 60-second commercial came on and seemed pleasant enough. It showed healthy-looking men and women, most in their 50's or 60's, leading active, productive lives.

The music lulled me into a state of acceptance - a gentle guitar melody, some soft background instrumentation. Kind of like a lullaby.

But the announcer was saying things that had nothing to do with the pictures. "What gives?" I thought. So I ran the spot back to the beginning, listened to his calm, soothing voice talk about some really ugly stuff. I ran it back, and this time I wrote down what he said.

This is the copy. Most certainly written by lawyers. As you read this, keep in mind the lovely music flowing underneath video of a woman buying flowers in a market, a man getting into his pickup truck and driving off, another woman going about her house... all of these people smiling. Not a worry in mind.

Obviously they weren't listening to what this guy was saying. Here it is:

"Victoza lowers blood sugar, and should be taken once a day.
An injectable prescription prescription medicine.
It is not recommended as the first medication for Type Two diabetes. It has not been studied with mealtime insulin. (This over a shot of a guy eating)
Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction may include 
- Swelling of face, lips or throat
- Very rapid heartbeat
- Problems breathing or swallowing
- Lump or swelling in your neck (video: a woman picks up a plant with a lovely flower in it, and smiles)
- Inflammation of the pancreas, or pancreatitis, which may be fatal. 
- Severe pain that will not go away in your abdomen or from your abdomen to   your back with or   without vomiting.
- May cause low blood sugar.
- May cause nausea, diarrhea, headache.
- Can lead to dehydration, which may cause kidney problems."

And finally, the clincher:

"Covered by most health plans."

Now I know all medications have side effects to consider. I expect to see them in the paper sheet with the tiny printing that comes with prescriptions. But this one, presented in such a matter of fact manner, seems like a time bomb waiting to go off in your system. And if, by chance, you incur any of the aforementioned side effects, they will certainly say, "Well, we warned you." 

If I ever develope Type II diabetes, I'm going to get 3 milk shakes at Steak 'n Shake during Happy Hour, hit my sugar high, and jump off the Golden Gate Bridge... if I can make it as far as San Francisco. If not, the new Musial Bridge will have to do.

I wish you sweet dreams.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Old Ad Guy is Still There

Ed is a guy I used to work with at the ad agency. He kept popping up in my mind the past couple of weeks. No reason, as far as I know. Although it could have been some metaphysical thing. Usually when this happens, especially in recent years. I find I'm too late. The person has been "gone" for awhile.

I called one of his sons and told him I had been thinking about his dad. Hesitantly I asked, "Is he still.... alive? And the other question, "How is he doing?" I knew he was in an assisted living facility, aka a nursing home. I held my breath. "Dad's doing fine," came the reply. A nice surprise, to say the least. He told me Ed was holding his own, had some problems, but for the most part was still part of this world, at least most of the time. He encouraged me to stop by to see him. "I'll do that," I said. "And thanks for the good news."

Yesterday I got a letter from the other son, a beautifully written description of his dad and the situation he currently finds himself in. I quote: 

     "Thank you for your past and present concern for his welfare. He always knows us when we go by to see him - although he usually doesn't remember what he had for lunch. I suppose that this is proof that he has always had his priorities straight - his family and friends are of the most importance to him.... He is always in good appetite and we usually take him a milk-shake when we go by. Sometimes we get him a scotch and soda or a beer."

Talk about the right priorities. The letter continues with what I believe is one of the most insightful and uplifting commentaries I've read about aging. 

     "Although he can't carry on a conversation like he used to - he can't recall a lot of the knowledge we all spend a lifetime collecting - he's still Dad. Only more so. After all, it's not knowledge and memory that makes us what we are - those are only tools and clothes for the spirit that makes use of them. Now that he has lost so many of them, it's easy to see and enjoy the core that's always been there and remains. Everyone at Laclede Groves loves him. He is serene."

Ed was a talented art director. He was a gentleman to work with. He was a joy to be around. It's people like Ed who made my time in advertising enjoyable to live through and a pleasure to remember. I will visit Ed this week. Since I'm not sure whether he prefers chocolate or vanilla milk shakes, I'll have to bring him a scotch and soda. Make that a double, bartender. See you soon, Ed.