‘Life-style,’ he said, pronouncing the word slowly, drawing it out, savouring it as if it was some rare new sweet, but one with a nasty after-taste.
‘You know, exercise and all,’ I explained, facts at my fingertips, patient education always my priority.
Joe looked around, as if sensing a trap closing in, and to my surprise, began to smite me with cunning arguments.
‘Let’s not rush into anything, doc,’ he said. ‘Pills get a bad rap; think about the advantages. They’re convenient, easily transported, eminently suitable for use in the home, like when you’re sitting on the sofa watching Sky Sports. Their quality can be monitored, standardised, regulated, their dosages reliable and flexible.
‘And pills are uniquely suited to investigating in double blind, randomised controlled trials, Student T-Tests, significance levels, the whole statistical gestalt. They’re hard-core science, evidence-based medicine at it’s finest, none of this fuzzy holistic shite.’
‘But statistics are sluts,’ I said. ‘For the right money, they’ll prove anything you want them to.’
‘Of course,’ he said.
‘And trial results should be released, even if the results are negative,’ I said. ‘And made available to peer-reviewed journals.’
‘Can’t argue with that,’ he shrugged. ‘But although people might call drug companies greedy and capitalist, that’s what makes the world go round, man. Greed is good, and profit is the motivator, the innovator; if the pope or Mother Teresa ran a drug company, would new products be developed?’
‘But a good walk and five portions of fresh fruit or vegetables every day would be as good as any pill,’ I said.
‘Yeh,’ said Joe. ‘And I could heed the call of the wolf and hunt for myself as well, rejoice in the thrill of the chase and exult as I slake my thirst on the fresh warm blood of my new-slaughtered prey, but it’s a damn sight more convenient when my mammy sticks it on a plate in front of me.
‘Look on my lifestyle, Ozymandias, King of Kings, and despair.’
- Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Follow him on Twitter@drlfarrell