Loveland Reporter-Herald

Warnings can make the cure seem worse than the disease


I’ve heard the phrase: “If it doesn’t kill you first …”.

TV commercial­s for the stuff concocted to heal us of many maladies have plenty warnings of the dire things that could happen if we should consume it.

I especially like the scenes (and magazine ads) with the beach scenes, showing beautiful models (of both sexes) cavorting on the sand, without a care in the world, and obviously very healthy.

“Are you suffering from the heartbreak of psoriasis?” If a potential patient is in such a state, and spots such an ad, it usually features both “before and after” photos. Seems the “before” images can be pretty hard to look at, but right next door is the “after” picture of the same person with the skin of a 2-year-old.

“Sounds great to me!,” the potential new patient exclaims — until the prospect begins to read the attached pages of warnings.

“Advise your physician immediatel­y after taking “Noskinatal­l” should you develop strange symptoms, such as hair on your tongue, or should an ear drop off.”

If that isn’t enough to give you second thoughts, you may move on to the next warning: “Do not take Noskinatal­l.

If you have ever suffered from a runny nose, toenail fungus, headache or warts, or if you have ever consumed more than two servings of ice cream at any single setting.”

The next time you pick up a box of aspirin at the store, take a minute and pull the sheet out of the box and read the warnings included — it’s enough to make you wonder if you should just suck it up and bear the pain.

I’ve heard that if aspirin were introduced today it would be a prescripti­on drug.

Imagine the warnings we’d have then.

Even such mundane things as extension electrical cords or small appliance cords are festooned with warning labels (attached with a miracle adhesive that makes them almost impossible to remove) warning the user that should they be foolish enough to actually plug them in to an outlet, they run the risk of electrical shock. “Don’t plug cord in while wet.” I’m not sure if that includes the installer.

A simple hammer will bear a warning sticker, reminding you: “Do not strike two hammer faces together!” Yeah, I know, who would? One that would make much more sense would be: “Do not strike thumb with hammer, painful injuries may occur, and profanitie­s may be uttered.”

I recall a time many years ago, when I was working as a carpenter. It was near quitting time and a workmate and I were bracing a structure to keep it standing until we returned the next work day.

I had just purchased a new “framing hammer,” a heavy hammer with a serrated face to prevent it from slipping from a nail.

I was set to drive in a nail to tie in the brace, when my workmate, who had noted my new piece of equipment, warned me: “Mike, watch your thumb!”

I guess I needn’t say anything else, because the serrated face of the hammer laid that thumb out like a med student’s homework.

Yep, it must be true, if it doesn’t cure you — it may kill you.

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