Your Medicine Cabinet Knows What AIls You
Your medicine cabinet knows what ails you.
By Rob Hoffman on February 15, 2018 at 5:27 AM
We all fancy ourselves experts when it comes to the human condition. We see our fellow human beings as open books, and we feel that on some level we can get to know what makes other people tick. That’s probably why we are often put ill at ease by introverts since they have the nerve to sit there quietly, and study human interaction while the rest of us prattle on. Still, is there a way to actually know, and come to an understanding of what makes a person who they are?
Well, there is the idea that the way one takes care of their work station or home tells us much about who they are as an individual. There are all sorts of phrases that have been spit out over the years to describe how one can be encapsulated by their surroundings.
“A messy house is a loving house.”
“A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.”
“If your desk is too clean, it probably means you’re not doing anything. (Like Trump’s desk.)
While most of these simply constitute lame excuses at why your house is a pigsty, there is the idea of cognitive dissonance that states that you can have two conflicting thoughts at once. In other words, a person can have a filthy home, but be physically fastidious about their appearance and personal cleanliness. (Honestly, I don’t buy that theory since if you never pick up your clothes, and allow them to lay around on your floor, and then you put them on, there’s a good chance that your room, your clothes, and your body probably are going to smell pretty ripe.)
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It says so much, and yet in many ways, it may pose more questions than it answers. I’ll be honest, I’m not even sure what most of this stuff is, or why it was purchased in the first place. Regardless, our downstairs medicine cabinet is a conflagulated storage unit of chaos. (Hoffman Collection)
We all seek out that “window to the soul,” of every individual that we encounter. The problem is, how do we find it? People will study your eyes, your religious convictions, your behavior under stress, the way you dress, even the type of hat that you choose to sport, searching in vain for that one all-important clue that leads one to figure out what makes a person tick. However, it may be possible that we are overlooking the obvious.
The way in which we deal with what ails us, may tell us more about our fellow earthlings than any metaphysical investigation of one’s soul, since it indicates and exposes our methodology for attempting to cure and care for our most precious commodity, our fragile and ultimately flawed bodies. Nothing matters more than one’s health, therefore, what we choose to purchase to deal with our health is in many ways the most revealing of human qualities. How can we gain this type of understanding regarding our fellow “carbon based units?” Check out a person’s medicine cabinet…of course.
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If your medicine cabinet looks like this, you may have a problem, or even a whole host of problems. You’ve basically become Elvis, which means your odds of dying on the toilet just increased incrementally. (Getty Images)
It was one of the great students of humanity, and all of its wonderful frailties and foibles, comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who on his uber-popular sitcom, Seinfeld, first set forth the proposition that you could ascertain essential information on a prospective partner by simply peering into their medicine cabinet. (As an aside, it was Jim Morrison who set forth the proposition that you could petition the Lord with prayer…petition the Lord with prayer…petition the Lord…with prayer. As it would turn out, YOU CANNOT PETITION THE LORD…WITH PRAYER!!!) Unfortunately, the lesson Jerry really learned was that you can draw a lot of false assumptions based on what one might find in another person’s medicine cabinet, and it’s easy to jump to conclusions.
(A couple of issues to consider here. First, if you find anti-fungal cream in somebody’s medicine cabinet, and you have any intention of becoming intimate with that individual, then you have every right to give pause to proceeding any further, especially since “ringworm” is a fungus, and nobody wants any part of anything that contains the word “worm” in it. Secondly, I wonder if Seinfeld is as enjoyable in a foreign language. I’m not sure if “Kramer” translates. You Tube)
What does it mean if you have a medicine cabinet jam-packed with various creams, ointments, pain-killers, and medications? I would imagine that this situation is fairly common amongst most people. Everybody has aspirin. Everybody has some sort of anti-itch cream. Everybody has Tums or some sort of antacid. I would also imagine that every family’s medicine cabinet has several cold, cough, or flu medications, none of which that really work. Beyond these staples, each home’s medicine cabinet can vary greatly.
Many of the items that one possesses in their medicine cabinet are bought at the time that somebody in the family becomes ill. This situation usually leads to a lot of medications and ointments being purchased in quantities that are well beyond the needs of whoever is ailing at the given time. Because of this medicinal overkill, once the ailment passes, the medication sits in the medicine cabinet for untold amounts of time, until its expiration date long-since passes. The irony of course is that you typically discover that the medication or ointment has passed its expiration date when you need that medication again, and so the cycle begins anew.
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My my, that’s a lot of Advil. The Miralax is a leftover from my colonoscopy, and the prescription medicine probably expired a while ago, but I’m going to hold on to them just in case. You never know. (Hoffman Collection)
It’s easy to feel like a hypochondriac or a germaphobe when you look in your medicine cabinet. However, we usually don’t buy anything unless we have a specific need for it. Our problem is we usually end up buying way too much of whatever it is we are purchasing, and it ends up devouring medicine cabinet shelf space for the forseeable future. For example, either my wife or I must have had a back or neck spasm, so we bought a lifetime supply of ThermaCare, the bandage like product that is essentially a hot wrap that gives very limited pain relief wherever you might be feeling discomfort. While its effectiveness is debatable, we purchase it as if it were Ex-Lax after finishing in the top three in a local cheese eating contest.
Sometimes if I’m really bored, I like to gaze up at my medicine cabinet and try to remember what was ailing me, or anyone else in the house that prompted me to purchase any of the given items that are in there, or even some of the prescription medications that end up lingering long after whatever ailed us has passed through our systems. I can’t speak for all families of course, but you can always tell by looking in our medicine cabinet when we were out of something, and my wife was annoyed by this circumstance. For example, if somebody suffers a nasty cut, and we are out of band-aids, the next thing you know, my wife will send me out to the store and I will end up purchasing about five boxes of band-aids.
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A sure sign of aging is the dreaded days of the week pill container. The purchase and utilization of this handy device is typically prompted by the fact that the medicines that you are taking are not only vital to your well-being, but are most likely going to be ingested for the forseeable future, therefore you forgo the medicine cabinet and begin to separate out your more necessary items as they now directly affect your survival. Be wary though, if four of the seven days in your container contain Oxycontin, you might be a drug addict. (Getty Images)
If you’re like me, (And I honestly don’t know how you could live with yourself if you weren’t.) you have probably come to the realization that most of the stuff in your medicine cabinet is in all probability, extraneous. What are the items that most individuals need on a daily basis?
Deodorant – From the age of 13, you really can’t leave the house without wearing it.
Aspirin – I get very nervous when we run out.
Nose Spray – I can’t sleep if my nose is stuffed
Melatonin – Again, this is about sleep. It helps me fall back to sleep when I wake up for the 12th time to pee.
Zantac – I don’t need it often, but if I overindulged, I go running for it pretty quickly.
If I look at my list of medicine cabinet staples, most of them have to do with being able to sleep and/or feeling comfortable. If you pause to think about it, many of these items have only been around for less than 100 years, and some, even less than that. It really makes you think how miserable life was in the so-called good old days. Imagine not having aspirin at your disposal, or a nasal decongestant, or what it was like before humanity went all in on deodorant? It makes one ponder the question, what would let’s say George Washington’s medicine cabinet have consisted of?
Turpentine – To clean his wooden teeth
Leeches – Was there anything more invigorating than a good bleeding?
Wig Powder – I’m not sure what that would have done, or how it enhanced the wig wearing experience, but since everybody wore a wig at this time, it would have made a lot of sense from a business perspective to try to take advantage of this opportunity.
Bible and Cross – For exorcism, in case you had a headache
Alcohol – Because drinking was pretty much your only recourse for the limitless amount of things that could cause you to feel horrible.
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Imagine you felt like this, and you opened up your medicine cabinet in 1795, and the only thing you had were leeches. There’s no “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz” with leeches. (Getty Images)
Medicine cabinets really can tell us a lot about ourselves. A messy cabinet probably means you’re not very domesticated, and that you don’t really maintain a medicine cabinet as much as you go out and buy items when you don’t feel well. An empty one means you’re one of those holistic healers who believes that “green tea” will cure cancer. One that has a lot of medications probably means you’re a worrier and most likely a hypochondriac.
In many instances, your medicine cabinet can be your own private treasure chest. You never know what might turn up. “Oh look, there’s that anal thermometer I’ve been pining for. Looks like somebody’s got plans this Saturday night!” Sometimes, you can’t believe that you actually had Tylenol Sinus medicine when you had one of those nasty sinus headaches, and you’re convinced you didn’t have any. If you had little kids, and now they’re all grown up, and you are looking for something in your medicine cabinet, you may discover, buried deep in the cabinet, a bottle of Syrup of Ipecac, or a tube of Balmex, or some other product that you used to use when your children were babies, but now are off and married. Don’t throw them out though, pretty soon you’ll have grandchildren, and well, you just never know.