may include dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, insomnia, mental sluggishness,
hallucinations, early dementia, and premature death)
to my mind, is the incomparable Queen of Sports. From the opening
serve to the final game-set-match point, we're talking unrelenting
man-to-man combat, unrivaled in all of sport for its twofold dynamics
of kinesiological complexity and mental-emotional taxation. So demanding
are these two dynamics, so intricate the responses required by the
infinite shot variables of pace, spin, and placement, and so short
the available response times, that the consciously willing mind
cannot begin to handle the overhead of directing all the skeletal
muscles involved. Fortunately, it doesn't have to. Because the brain
itself, knowing what needs to be done, takes over control of the
body at what – borrowing from computer science argot – we might call
the systems level. In short, the player can trust his inner
"mind-body connection" to know how to do what on the court.
stated, is the keynote insight unpacked by W. Timothy Gallway in
his classic bestseller The
Inner Game of Tennis (1972), who subsequently authored The
Inner Game of Golf, The
Inner Game of Music, and other Inner Game books.
still waiting for one entitled The Inner Game of Health and Sanity,
a book that will explain how all adult humans of sound mind need
to put more trust in their own mind-body connections in the arena
of health and wellness.
Nobody knows better about your body than you do.
of design, every human mind-body complex constitutes a level of
perfection that no other human, notwithstanding the hubris of many,
can ever hope to improve upon. That is a philosophically valid assertion
whether one subscribes to evolutionary theory or the creation story.
Either God got it right (the first time) or evolution got it right
(after trillions upon gadzillions of trial-and-error nano-adjustments).
on such philosophical grounds that I withheld my consent when, shortly
after my daughter was born, her pediatrician advised dosing her
up with fluoride tablets to improve her teeth. Now, twelve
years later, studies have shown that fluoride is (a) toxic
to the body and (b) does not improve teeth. Meanwhile, my
daughter's teeth are very healthy. But so, of course, is our billion-dollar
fluoride additive industry, as witness the near impossibility of
finding an unfluoridated toothpaste on any supermarket shelf.
Dr. Robert Mendelsohn published his Confessions
of a Medical Heretic, alerting readers to the irreversible
horrors of gratuitous surgeries and invariably rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul
medications, and showing people how to obtain the information necessary
for making their own medical decisions. Both the American Medical
Association and the pharmaceutical industry were outraged at this
frontal assault on their doctor knows best propaganda.
Am I the
only American distressed by the unremitting juggernaut of pharmaceutical
commercials on TV? Or is there no remaining human complaint which
cannot be medicated away?
the day, we had those wonderful Bud Light commercials between innings
or during timeouts. Now, sitting in the family room with my wife
and almost teenage daughter, I must squirm through Levitra and Cialis
commercials, as handsome men walking besides smiling women talk
about their erectile dysfunction, and the voiceover warns to "see
your doctor if you have an erection lasting longer than six hours."
Give me a break.
pharmaceutical commercials have become virtually ubiquitous, and
invariably conclude with the incantation "talk to your doctor
your doctor. See your doctor. Right. You think he or she is going
to tell you NOT to take drugs? That your body can sustain itself
without the benefits of modern pharmaceuticals? Not likely. Doctors
are trained to be proactive, either with scalpel or prescription
my alluding to tennis again, but my daughter (the one with the beautiful
teeth) went to a tennis camp this past summer. Had to get a physical
though. Had to have that form signed by Jane Doecutter, M.D., to
prove that a medical professional had performed the intricate
procedures of weighing her, measuring her, and certifying that her
blood was still pulsing along within sub-artery-bursting pressure
parameters. But, what the heck, I think: little harm can come from
a simple physical exam. Besides, it only set me back sixty bucks
the previous summer. So, off we go to see Dr. Jane.
wait forever in the waiting room, in comes an attractive drug saleswoman
with her bulging case of samples and brochures. I overhear her setting
up a luncheon date with the doc. I don't think it's going to be
Dutch treat. Meanwhile, I sit and look at all the placards advertising
some new wonderdrug for the now epidemic "disease" called
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I wait and fidget, unaware
that my daughter is being subjected, even as I fidget, to an unsolicited
psychological screening for – you guessed it – ADHD.
eternity I get called into the examination room for a little doctor-parent
is in great shape," the good doctor begins.
I nod appreciatively
at this fantastic news.
there's little evidence of ADHD. I think she's okay there."
rejoicing. We're almost out of here.
suddenly, I'm listening to a sales pitch.
really excited about this new vaccine," Dr. Jane is saying.
has my attention. She is concerned about Savannah's possible exposure
to Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus that,
in admittedly rare cases, can lead to cervical cancer. But, not
to worry, a series of injections of the newly approved vaccine Gardasil
will inoculate my daughter against this imminent threat to her life.
Savannah's twelve years old. She's not sexually active," I
protest, at the first available pause in the pitch.
looks at me with her intense brown eyes, as though she had just
encountered her first Neanderthal in the flesh. And quickly moves
on to less controversial medical wisdom.
I am able
to get my daughter out of there, finally, after stopping at the
window to pay, not $60, but $160. What will they add to the physical
examination next year, I wonder. Maybe preemptive angioplasty.
would learn (1) that Gardisil, made by Vioxx-maker Merck, is one
of the most expensive vaccines ever ($360 for a three-shot series),
(2) that there are some frightening side-effects associated with
the aluminum-containing genetically-reengineered vaccine, (3) that
cervical cancer is a rapidly diminishing health risk among American
women, one that pales in comparison to both breast and lung cancer,
and (4) that HPV infections, in the majority of cases, clear up
on their own. Was Dr. Jane unaware of facts (2) to (4)? Who knows.
But I wager she was not oblivious to fact (1).
of another story, again involving my daughter.
ago, when Savannah was seven or eight, she had a summer-vacation
"boyfriend," whom I will call Robert, who lives in another
was what we used to call all boy: fun-loving, adventurous,
irrepressible. Savannah (pretty irrepressible in her own right)
was crazy about him. She sent him birthday and Christmas cards during
the following winter. Her first relationship.
the next summer vacation rolled around and we saw Robert again,
his personality had changed. Now he was subdued, taciturn, standoffish,
almost sullen. Gone was the broad toothy grin, gone the carefree
the story from his mother. Robert had been diagnosed with ADHD and
was on Ritalin.
our drug-lobby-compromised FDA admits that Ritalin therapy has been
linked to visual hallucinations, suicidal ideation, psychotic behavior,
and violent behavior. But Robert's mother – who is herself on medication,
as are her other two children – is happy. And Robert's schoolteacher
is happy. Because Robert now does what he's told and stays out of
trouble. He's a model little citizen, respectful of authority, productive.
So what if he's a little dull now? Life is all about tradeoffs anyway.
out on our roads and highways, how many of the drivers we pass going
the other way today at combined speeds of over 100 mph are on Prozac
or lithium or something? I probably don't want to know. According
to Wikipedia, the reported side effects of Prozac include anxiety,
agitation, panic attacks, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness,
impulsivity, hypomania (Google that for the Wikipedia definition
if you want a good laugh), and mania. But God help you if you get
stopped after having a beer at the local pub. We're talking zero
tolerance here, boys and girls.
But I fear
my little diatribe may end up falling on too many deaf (read medicated)
ears. The drug-dependent segment of our population may be reaching
a kind of critical mass, leaving non-drug-dependent adults in the
minority. To protest against drug over-dependence might soon be
labeled a hate crime, and I may have to wear a T-shirt that says
"WARNING: I AM NOT ON MEDICATION. APPROACH AT OWN RISK."
[send him mail]
is a playwright and patent translator living with his wife and daughter
in Chattanooga, TN.