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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cold comfort

I'm expecting the knock on the door at any minute. The Pseudo-Feds ready to take away Mrs. O.L. for buying cold pills twice in one week.

Anyone who has the current cold making the rounds knows it rates a 15 and a scale of 1-to-10. A cough that will shake the foundation of your home. Stuffed sinuses that pound (when you are not making disgusting noises trying to breath).

Once upon a time there were ways to deal with colds -- solid medications sold over-the-counter (go to a doctor for a cold? Puhleeze.) Take them for about 10 days and you feel better.

But that's before the long arm of the law opted to come down on crankheads by it taking out on cold and allergy sufferers.

You probably know that pseudoephedrine, the most common decongestant in recent years, is the favorite of those looking to brew up their own homegrown batch of crystal meth. It takes about 1,000 60 mg pills -- the average dose for four-to six hours of relief -- to make an ounce of crystal meth.

That means you would need a semi-trailer to haul away enough decongestant to get high for about 10 seconds.

So what did our authorities do? One, they put the cold medicine behind the counter. Of course you have to present a driver's license (with social security number) and sign a log saying you are a law-abiding but sick individual. No sneezes are required. Face identity theft at your own peril.

One problem -- stores have policies designed to make you sick to your stomach. CVS, now the largest chain the country, puts a limited selection behind the cash registers -- not the pharmacy counter. If they have what you are looking for -- doubtful -- you have managed to annoy the long line behind you.

Or you can take the substitute rolled out to foil the crankheads: phenylephrine. Sort of a pseudo-pseudofed. Problem is -- it doesn't work!

So Mrs. O.L. graciously went out on a cold morning to pick up a box of the real deal (complete with triprolidine, an antihistamine -- you know the thing that knocks you out cold to stop sneezes?) Signed the register, refused to leave a fingerprint but walked away with the goods.

Lo and behold, it's several days later I have ungraciously shared my illness with Mrs. O.L. So off I trudge for the above mentioned CVS run-around.

Admitting my failure to adequately provide, she gets some nice people to find some stashed behind a counter in Walgreen's and she signs away our property rights. But she got what we need.

I fear what will happen if one of us gets a cold again this year. Are we on the Pseudo-Feds Ten Most Wanted Cold Tablet Users list? Will we suffer and go without?

Somewhere, a crankhead would be laughing -- if they were only coherent enough or haven't blown up their house. I, on the other hand, am still sneezing and wheezing and mumbling under my raspy breath about the Pheds.




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