While standing in the perpetual 27-person line at the campus post office last Tuesday, I was casually thumbing through my newly arrived issue of Car and Driver and munching on some of the rations I’d packed for the wait. In the midst of this automotive browsing, I glimpsed a full-page advertisement for Tylenol. It loudly proclaimed, in stark black and white writing, that the painkiller was “recommended by 2 out of 3 leading doctors.” Well, that’s tremendous. Who wouldn’t want a product with such overwhelming support?
Then, however, something peculiar happened. As precious few things do, this ad ignited the pilot lamp in that rusty old furnace I fondly call my brain. . The floodgates opened: What exactly is a leading doctor? Is it a different breed of doctor? How would you go about becoming one of these “leading” doctors? Perhaps there is a test you have to take, testing your prowess at making people wait in small rooms in their underwear and sticking needles into things.
Regardless of what you do to become a leading doctor, there must be some who fall short, and are left behind. What title is awarded these lost souls? Are they mediocre doctors? Following doctors? Trailing doctors? Where do they practice? Why doesn’t Tylenol poll them?
This issue is one of potentially devastating local effect, too. What if your doctor is not of the coveted “leading” variety? Suppose she is a trailing doctor – the dreaded third who does not recommend Tylenol. Did you ask when you signed up? I didn’t. Does she differ in opinion on things besides pain medication? If you break your leg, your mediocre doctor might be revving up the chainsaw, while a leading one would just prop you up on some crutches and pump you full of – what else – Tylenol. Maybe she’s recommending all sorts of incorrect procedures. She might be making mistakes all the time. Maybe that’s the risk; the alleged spice of life everyone is always telling me I am missing.
Has your doctor ever prescribed Tylenol? Mine hasn’t. If I show the initiative and cart my crippled self to the doctor, I want results. I want the real deal. I don’t want a doctor, especially a leading one, telling me to “oh, I recommend Tylenol.” I want him to give me one of those little pieces of paper that says I can get a 55-gallon drum of something that has a name with no vowels and only comes in “industrial strength.” I want to wake up in my bathtub with a four-alarm hangover three days after I’ve taken only one pill. I don’t get sick for nothing, you know.
Now, I am not a health science major. My expertise in the medical field is limited to the application of band-aids and the consumption of incapacitatingly large amounts of Nyquil. Thusly, I am sure that there are those who would argue that I know nothing about the prescription of any kind of medicine. However, I am fairly certain that Tylenol is an over-the-counter medication. Unless I am mistaken, this means that you can get it without a doctor. If whatever you have is so trifling and dull that Tylenol can reverse your march towards death, you shouldn’t be at the doctor. You should be at work. Leave your physician out of it. He’s got plenty of other people in their underwear waiting to be harpooned with the scurvy vaccine.