by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady wrote,
I have recently developed tinnitus. What should I take for headaches since I have read that taking Aspirin and Ibuprofen can cause tinnitus. I do not want mine to be more severe.
Not knowing your situation, my first reaction is to suggest you work at finding and eliminating the cause of your headaches, then you won’t have to worry about the side effects of drugs because you won’t need to take any!
Unfortunately, drugs are aimed at merely relieving symptoms (such as pain from headaches) rather than working to correct the underlying cause (which could be your neck out of whack, eyestrain, poor diet, lack of sleep, noisy surroundings, etc.)
To me, the much better and wiser approach is to root out and eliminate the cause, then the symptoms will go away on their own.
In the following poem, just substitute the word “drugs” every place the word “ambulance” occurs. At the same time, think of the “fence” as an allegory to rooting out the cause of any health condition, and you’ll see just how mixed up and backwards our drug model of health care really is.
Joseph Malens wrote this poem back in 1895, but its message is just as powerful and relevant today as it was back then.
The Ambulance Down In the Valley
‘Twas a dangerous cliff as they frankly confessed,
Tho’ to walk to its crest was so pleasant.
But over its terrible edge there had slipped
A duke and full many a peasant.
So the people said something would have to be done,
But their projects did not at all tally.
Some said, “Put a fence ’round the edge of the cliff.”
Some said, “An ambulance down in the valley.”
Well, the cry for the ambulance carried the day,
For it spread through the neighboring city.
“A fence may be useful or not,” so they say,
But each heart became brimful of pity—
For those who had slipped o’er the dangerous cliff.
And dwellers on highway and alley
Gave pounds and pence—not to put up a fence—
But for an ambulance down in the valley.
“For the cliff is all right if you’re careful,” they said.
“And even if folks slip and are dropping,
It isn’t the slip that hurts them so much,
As the shock down below when they’re stopping!”
So day after day as those mishaps occurred
Quick forth would the rescuers sally,
To pick up the victims who fell off the cliff
With their ambulance down in the valley.
Then an old sage remarked, “Its a marvel to me
That people give far more attention,
To repairing the results, than in stopping the cause,
When they’d much better aim at prevention.”
“Let us stop at the source of this mischief,” cried he.
“Come neighbors and friends, let us rally,
If the cliff we would fence, we could almost dispense,
With the ambulance down in the valley.”
“Oh, he’s a fanatic!” the others rejoined.
“Dispense with the ambulance? Never!
He’d dispense with all charity too, if he could,
No. We’ll support the ambulance forever.
Aren’t we picking up people as fast as they fall?
Shall this man dictate to us? Shall he?
Why should people with sense stop to put up a fence
When an ambulance waits down in the valley?”
After I wrote the above article, I discovered that Herbert Nehrlich wrote a sequel to this poem—talking about drugs as the “ambulance” just as I have done. You can read his sequel below the “Ambulance Down In the Valley” poem here, and then take to heart the surprise ending.