There I was minding my own business when an authoritative voice asked me to imagine facing my life with less chronic osteoarthritis pain.
This anonymous narrator then subtly introduced me to a pretty, middle-aged, bleached-blonde lady whose knee clearly hurts her when she descends the stairs to greet her chubby, graying husband who suffers from back pain.
As we move outside, I’m told that Cymbalta will relieve my pain, but of course I am to tell my doctor right away if my mood worsens (from what baseline?) or if I have suicidal thoughts.
Next we see a racially ambiguous younger Latina woman on the front steps of a quaint whitewashed older home sitting with a child….the camera zooms in on the fact that she and the child are wearing jeans and sneakers, to assure me that these are Regular People just like me, except that the child is wearing a leather WWI fighter pilot’s hat and goggles. That seems a bit irregular.
Everything is weathered in this commercial…including the people…but of course in a good shabby chic way because, though weathered, baby boomers are gods in today’s pharmaceutical world.
Next we catch another glimpse of our blonde lady, the heroine of this flash fiction, sitting at a table shelling peas (we’re sure she bought them at a farmers’ market just minutes before) on a grassy lawn in front of a beautifully weathered oceanfront home…and the camera pans to her pedicured sandaled feet. Then there appears a slow-mo blinking Dalmatian…why he’s in there is anybody’s guess, unless he has bad hips, but he clearly adores the blonde woman.
The goggled child and the blinking dog just warm my heart. Which is necessary at this point because of the cold fact that Cymbalta, taken with aspirin, may increase bleeding risk, and because severe liver problems, some fatal, were reported. Now the kind, yet firm, voice wants me to know that the signs of liver problems include abdominal pain and yellowing of the skin or eyes. I am also gently informed that high fever, confusion, and stiffness (what I would have taken the drug for in the first place), or serious allergic skin reactions like blisters, peeling rash, hives, or mouth sores can be life threatening.
There is a lot of rain in this part of the commercial. I’m thinking it is filmed in Washington State – lots of trees, sea oats, and skittering leaves – where all the cool, interesting people are…you know, where the film crew voted to go so they could hang out with progressive people at night when the ad was a wrap and safely “in the can.” (I’m showing my age…there are no film cans in the digital age, though there might be in this ad just to satisfy us boomers.)
But then the rain goes away (“cymbolic” of the pain going away, I’m guessing). All the tentative folks we’ve previously glimpsed are now happy: an older woman in a very upscale window-front café reads and drinks creamy coffee in a clear mug (don’t forget to talk to your doctor about your alcohol use or migraine treatments); the handsome middle-aged black man now smiles (he’s only been seen on a park bench with an abandoned book, whose pages flap in the gentle breeze as he observes life); the racially ambiguous younger Latina woman, now alone, eyes the camera pleasantly; a middle-aged brunette woman looks relieved; and Joe Average, an overweight middle-aged white man, has stopped cleaning his glasses and now gives the camera a bit of a satisfied smirk. The gray-haired lady from the café stands and stretches her cape above her arms as we’re told that dizziness or fainting may occur upon standing.
The gang’s all here…except the pea-shucking blonde lady with the nice feet…I think we can safely assume she and the chubby husband, who was snuggling her earlier, have climbed back up the stairs and are having a roll in the fabulous bed we never see – but I’m betting has a white eyelet bed skirt. (We may one day see these two handsome boomers in matching outdoor claw-footed bathtubs with no actual plumbing.)
None of these happy people seems to give a moment’s thought to bleeding risk or liver complications…you get the feeling that those symptoms only affect “other people” – you know, the less glamorous and less affluent. The ones who don’t have cool, old beachfront homes, chic neighborhood coffee shops, purebred dogs, or, perhaps, health insurance.
So you can go to Cymbalta to learn about a free trial offer. Or do as I do and pop a couple of generic naproxen every day, and skip the peeling rash.