Sunday, January 24, 2010

Medical Musings

Deep Vein Thrombosis. It doesn't sound pleasant, though it would make a great name for a rock and roll band. In this case, I refer to it as one of a litany of side effects possible when taking Yaz, the Happy Fun Ball of prescription birth control medication and inspiration for the Saturday Night Live's Annuale (back when SNL was at least occasionally funny).


Saturday Night Live | MySpace Video

Why would I be concerned with this, you ask? I'm not, really. It's just that I've been inundated with Yaz class action come-ons by various ambulance chasers advertising on Discovery Health the past few months. Like a bad commercial jingle, I can't get it out of my head. Judging by the deluge of similar pitches on this network, Oprah's killing of Discovery Health in 2011 will mark a dark day in law offices across these United States (at least for those attorneys who keep their actions classy). I've never seen so many shysters hawking so many lawsuits against so many different entities in the healthcare industry than on this network. Of course, they're playing to a picture perfect target demographic: hypochondriacs of all stripes.

But all this and no mention of the drug with my favorite lopsided benefit/side-effect ratio: Glaxo-Smith Kline's Requip (Ropinirole)?

Requip is a prescription medication used to treat Restless Leg Syndrome and whose known side effects include Compulsive Gambling and Sex Addiction. Now to be fair, Requip is just one of a number of dopamine antagonists that research has shown can trigger these "adverse reactions" in a small percentage of users. Of course, these side effects are printed on the label and rattled off along with their more conventional cousins in the ads, so full disclosure gets them off the hook for current litigation (though I imagine they got nailed hard early on).

To be sure, Restless Leg Syndrome is a very real and potentially painful ailment, despite the goofy name. I have family and friends that suffer from its debilitating effects to varying degrees and it ain't pleasant. But still, it does have that goofy name, making it sound so innocuous. And sex addiction? Gambling?? These sound more like a couple of the more common side effects of the drug Ethanol (I can attest to the veracity of this connection having conducted several research excursions to Vegas and Atlantic City under its influence).

Perhaps Tiger Woods' extra marital relations - supposedly the sad ramification of a sex addiction - can in fact be attributed to Requip. After all, his legs seemed at peace of late on the golf course but perhaps that wasn't the case early on (back when he wasn't screwing anything that moved). Check out video of his play back in the late 1990s, it's like he's got ants in his pants. Did he really have knee surgery in 2008 or was it something else?

As for gambling? Well, a percentage of those that have lost their job, house and car to gambling debts can possibly take comfort in the fact that when Louie the Loan Shark's musclemen come to collect, they'll be breaking very well rested legs indeed.

Me? I'll make it a point to avoid Yaz, even if my doctor insists. I've always had a suspicion that he'd be a true believer in cinema classics like Junior and Rabbit Test, so I'll keep a watchful eye. Rabbit Test - man, I haven't thought about that masterpiece in years. Joan Rivers had only one turn in the director's chair and this was her "baby." Clearly, judging by this work, she could have been the female Scorsese had she kept at it ... or perhaps a latter-day Ed Wood (apologies to Mr. Wood for that last crack). Somehow, Billy Crystal survived. I can say that I saw this in the theater during its initial run in 1978 and recall enjoying it. Though I was only 15 and likely close to legally insane, I was not otherwise impaired so I can't blame it on drugs. I can say that I caught a bit of Rabbit Test recently (as much as I could take) and have had a change of heart.

And as for my Restless Leg Syndrome, I'll stick with the black tar heroin. That seems to do the trick just fine.