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A Survivor's Tale!!! Heroism in The Battle Against Lard Butt Syndrome

....hey, the media isn't calling, I'll do it myself

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, April 12, 2006.

I was putting up my daily blog this morning when I came across a piece of such good news that I actually shouted, a bad move given I live in an apartment and it was 5AM. Still, I’m sufficiently impressed by this bald statement of the obvious for the common good that I want to make sure you’re aware of it. I’m just public minded, I am.

A research group at Newcastle University – which is in Australia - is saying Big Pharma is disease mongering, and exaggerates mild problems to sell their products, and actually invents diseases and syndromes to accomplish this end, and that it’s putting healthy if not too bright people at risk. Well, duh. But it’s nice to see that in print and getting media coverage.

They point out several new marketing tactics to encourage revenue streams. One is the preposterous claim that 43% of women in the US live with – wait for it….. –sexual dysfunction. They’re not revolted by their obese, drunk husbands, it’s their fault. No! Not their fault, their disease. And we, selfless Big Pharma, can help….

Another revenue stream long nurtured is “high cholesterol”, and yet another is osteoporosis, which are both presented as diseases. And then absurdly rare conditions like ‘restless leg syndrome’ which are flogged well beyond any possible need. Had anyone ever heard of “restless leg syndrome” till those commercials started? And really, how different is it than other horrors that keep the aging awake at night? Are we soon to be medicated for “Itchy Ear Syndrome?”

Maybe, look what they did to energetic kids because nobody disciplines children anymore. How about irritable bowel syndrome? This is promoted as a serious illness needing perpetual medication, when usually it’s a mild problem involving diet and exercise. And then, another biggee targeting women. Menopause. The report says this is too often medicated – well, actually it says medicalised which I cannot believe is a word, even in Australia - as some sort of disorder when in reality NOT having menopause would be the issue. It’s a normal part of life, and treating it as a disease is like treating aging as a disease, and nobody would do that, would they? I mean, aside from the cadaverous guy who looks like the history of slipshod cosmetic surgery on PBS.

The report says "Disease-mongering is the selling of sickness that widens the boundaries of illness and grows the markets for those who sell and deliver treatments.” We’ve all known that, of course, one way or the other, but usually we’re aware that other people are stupid and gullible whereas the stuff we believe is perhaps little known but certain medical and social fact. For example, I knew beyond doubt that diets didn’t work and were designed for weak, tremulous sorts who wanted structure in their lives of emptiness.

Let me drag in here one of the earliest signs of disease mongering, which was offered thirty years ago by the mental health profession. This avocation of therapists in dead seriousness presented the concept of the “ego-dystonic” disease, a sickness only if the patient thinks it is. And, given the deep if not really Freudian mantra of toast buttered on one side, this allowed the psychiatric profession to continue treating and billing gays as ill unless they thought they were not, and the profession could agree with both sides of that powerful interest group without, in theory, giving offense. That’s the sort of logic and treatment that gives Tom Cruise gravitas in psychiatric matters.

Over the last five years, my weight shot up from about 190 to 250, and, no, I didn’t carry it well or at all. I was already overweight at 190, I should be about 170. I say with some vanity that it never occurred to me I had a condition or a disease, but that I was obese because I didn’t physically move and ate with the same gusto I had all my life. Gusto being a euphemism for “obscene amounts of good food.” But obesity, the visible state of many if not most Americans, is not a disease, even an ego-dystonic disease, but it can surely cause disease. It is, except in very, ridiculously rare situations, the result of lifestyle choice. And I made it.

I was presented with three copies of the South Beach Diet last Christmas from people I hope did not know each other. I took this as a sign that arguably I had passed the limit of amusingly plump into the retina-searing stage that leads, without question, to diabetes. The diet made all sorts of sense and contained no health horrors or remotely unreasonable demands and allows you to eat till you’re full. I’ve dropped forty pounds in about four months with no effort at all and have no problems with it. It was just a question of doing it.

I’ve waited patiently by the phone for the local newspaper to call and do a front page Sunday piece on me – “Gluttony Survivor! A Victim Tells His Inspirational Story!” but no. They obviously hate me and give all their dead tree space to those other, over covered diseases like cancer and child abuse and even the occasional war wound victim.

I feel disrespected and ignored for my heroism, and even Big Pharma fails me. There’s no medicine for that, no drug for being a lazy ass lard butt who feels guilty about it.