Decongestants and What goes around; It is all connected

By David Broyles

August 22, 2013

Let me open this week’s column by admitting prescription medications have never failed to quash notions I held that any plucky pioneer toughness came my way in the genetic lottery. Depending on how you look at it, meds work well on me. Perhaps too well.

My beloved granddaughter Kaebry, in the time honored tradition of families sharing, gave me her cold recently. Because I wasn’t too sure I had enough documentation to purchase my decongestant of choice, pseudoephedrine, I had to settle for the next best over the counter alternative. It’s almost as good but the unwelcome side effect is it knocks the filter I rely on to stay focused right out from under my wheels. I freely associate words and concepts way too easily.

This could be the answer to a lot of legislation which trickles down to us. I lack grant money to fully document this virus is the true force propelling politics theory however. Let me get back on track.

My poor colleagues this week have had to suffer horrible puns and have shown the patience of saints as they steered me back to the lead. In my line of work, not a good side effect. Of course, my brief journey in over-the-counter pharmacy-land taught me a good side effect often winds up being what the drug is eventually used for.

It is striking how a lot of medications are like that disclaimer rocketing past you at the end of advertisements. You know. The ad which promises the product will make the quality of life so much better — as long as your definition of better includes its OK to reach the age of 40 and you grow an extra purple big toe because the other toes disappear overnight.

It reminds me of the newest incarnation of “Star Trek” where you learn why Captain Kirk hates Dr. McCoy’s cures. McCoy’s side effects are worse than the condition. I felt a lot of compassion for patients who were suddenly, biochemically, thrust into the role of juggler, trying to use one medication which caused them to need another medication which needed yet another medication.

Remember in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” where the Jones boys were bound in a chair and trying to escape? Their efforts only caught the room on fire. It would be hard topping Sean Connery’s line, “Our condition has not improved.” Of course, Connery’s singing in “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” is just as forgettable as Clint Eastwood’s in “Paint Your Wagon.”

I remember checking out bags of prescriptions to some patients and wondering how anyone could keep track of that many medications. And it’s not recreational. (Another topic entirely. Wow, let me get back on track.) This was life continuing stuff. Of course, isn’t irony a fringe benefit for living a certain amount of mileage?

You see. There it happened. From a discussion of decongestants to Indiana Jones and I slid off the trail into stars’ less than stellar choices for performances. The realization solving one problem can cause another might be a natural extension of the saying “what goes around comes around.”

Folks, it’s possible to live long enough to see just desserts served and it’s not the zippy experience portrayed in movies. I wish you a health-filled weekend.

David Broyles is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at or 719-1952.