Our Chemical Companions: A Meditation on Modern Medicine (with a Side of Cynicism) by
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Prompted By Pills

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Far out, far out, far out. Let’s talk pills, folks. Those little sugar-coated suckers that have been humanity’s companions since we first figured out chewing on some random root could make us see sparkly jaguars. Shamans with questionable fashion sense swigged dubious concoctions, all in the pursuit of a better afterlife, or at least a decent trip. Fast forward a few millennia, and here we are, shoving pills down our throats like candy, convinced a daily dose of mystery chemicals is the key to eternal youth, or at least getting through till next Tuesday.

Open up your medicine cabinet, yeah you know the one with the slightly-off-white cabinet door because you can’t quite remember the last time you cleaned it. What horrors lurk within? A rogue bottle of Pepto Bismol from that regrettable Sukhi Chicken incident? A half-used tube of antifungal cream you’re too embarrassed to explain or even remember? We’ve all got our pharmaceutical skeletons, rattling around in there like the ghosts of ailments past.

Personally, mine’s a shrine to hypochondria. I’ve got the usual suspects: the cholesterol reduction speciality for the inevitable heart attack I’m convinced is coming (thanks, Dad, for those genetics), the allergy medications for the dust bunnies that inexplicably trigger my hay fever whenever my friends visit, and of course, the sleep aids for the crippling anxiety that keeps me glued to true crime documentaries until 3 am.

Do I feel like a conquering hero every time I swallow this chemical cocktail? Honestly? No, not really. More like a malfunctioning Roomba, blindly bouncing around hoping not to bump into anything too fragile or important. There’s a strange disconnect, isn’t there? We pop these pills with this blind faith that modern science has bottled up the solution to every human woe. But a nagging voice whispers, “Is this really fixing anything, or just masking the problem?” And the answer is “Yes!”

Then there’s the whole “feed your head” thing. Ah, Jefferson Airplane with Grace Slick, those whimsical harbingers of the psychedelic revolution. Let’s not forget the good ol’ days of expanding your consciousness with mind-bending substances. Sure, some folks found enlightenment, others ended up staring at their navel for a week convinced they are now a bread or Pop Tart toaster.

But hey, at least it was an adventure, right? These days, altered realities come in the form of meticulously measured medicinal doses and some sterile hospital settings. Not exactly Woodstock, is it?

Look, I’m not saying pills are all snake oil. Modern medicine has done wonders. But somewhere along the line, we’ve become reliant on a quick chemical fix, neglecting the power of our own bodies and minds. Maybe it’s time to dust off those metaphorical metaphysical yoga mats and take a more holistic approach. Or, you know, just keep popping pills and hope for the best. After all, denial is a powerful drug too, and it comes with free side effects like blissful ignorance. The choice, as always, is yours. Just try not to choke on those damn pills, alright?


Profile photo of Kevin Driscoll Kevin Driscoll
(Mostly) Vegetarian, Politically Progressive, Daily Runner, Spiritual, Helpful, Friendly, Kind, Warm Hearted and Forgiving. Resident of Braintree MA.

Characterizations: funny, right on!, well written


  1. You’re right Kevin, we do pop a lotta pills, don’t we! And hopefully some are indeed helpful , maybe even keeping us Boomers alive!

    As I just wrote to Laurie, we know we’re getting old when the first thing we pack for a trip is our pills!

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    I loved the Grace Slick/White Rabbit illustration! It think the answers to your musings are kind of the same–keeping ourselves healthy is usually a balance of healthy environment, good luck choosing our parents, health habits, social supports and various medicinals or treatments to help our bodies do their best. Meanwhile, wipe off those fingerprints on the off-white medicine cabinet and throw out the expired contents.

  3. Thanks, Kevin. I always appreciate your amiable skepticism. I’d never thought of a medicine cabinet as a shrine before, but in the culture of Western medicine, its contents are as precious as the rum, tobacco, feathers, icons of a Santaria alter. I also appreciated your final take on the promise, albeit partial, of holistic cures. But no matter how much turmeric you ingest, keep on poppin’ those statins!

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    Well stated. Cleaning out our medicine cabinet is a journey through a lifetimes of ailments.

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