Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Medicine Cabinet

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I've got a cold. I've got a full-blown, stuffed nose, bad cough, congested chest, sneezy type of cold. Oh ya, and I've even been lent a sexy, hoarse voice. Sometimes that's the only good thing that comes out of a cold!

This cold has been making the rounds in our house since last week, and I thought I could avoid it, but it ensnared me, too.

I'm at the point where I need some medicine -- anything from keeping me up at night, listening to my own cough. So what do I do? I head for the medicine cabinet. And what do I find there?

I find children's medicine -- a pink, bubble-gum flavored one for colds, a purple grape-flavored one for fevers and a truly medicinal "cherry-flavored" one for coughs.

Any cold medicine for adults in there? Yup, only a trial sample cough medicine. I check the expiry date: April 2005. Um, I wonder if this expired medicine will make me cough any less.

So I decide I'd better check all the expiry dates on all the medicines and health products in there. And I see that most everything has expired. Is it harmful to use Vaseline whose "best before date" was 1998? I remember buying that jar when my 2nd child was born -- in 1997. I have other items that are long-overdue but are kept for...I don't know what. I have diaper creams circa 1995 and oatmeal based bath powder circa 2003. I have antacids from long past, so long past, that I'd probably need to take a newer antacid to counteract the ill-effects from the original antacids. I have deodorants (did you know they have expiry dates, too?) that probably aren't keeping me as fresh as they could be, seeing that they're three years old!

I can appreciate actual expiry dates, but I can't accept products that have codes -- those codes mean nothing to the average household Joe or Joelene, but call a Consumer Information line at the company and the "helpful person" at the other end of the line immediately rattles off what each number and letter of that code stands for. And damn, when I get the information from them that the product I'm holding in my hand is ... EXPIRED!!

Not too long ago, there was a Canadian contest to find the person with the oldest tube of Polysporin. I had a pretty old tube -- to the point of the ends being rusty -- of Preparation H, but knew that was not what they were looking for in this particular contest. So I just sat this contest out, but discovered the winning tube was from 1955!

This contest was held to make Canadians clean out their medicine cabinets so they're prepared with effective over-the counter medications. So, effective and having an effect can mean two very different things -- just think of those old antacids I've got. Not too effective, but would certainly have an effect!

I challenge you all to go into the dark, into the unknown. Open those toiletry bags, fling open those medicine chest doors, pull open those bathroom drawers and under-the-sink cabinet doors and begin stalking -- and taking stock of -- your health and beauty products. No doubt you'll find items that no longer belong...that haven't belonged in 3-4 years. Toss them, flush those pills and the contents of those medicine bottles down the toilet, but do keep at least one item for posterity's sake.

I'll know I'll continue to hold on to my Preparation H. You never know when a contest will be held to find the oldest tube of that! And when my lucky tube of Preparation H wins, it'll be me, TorontoPearl, saying to Canada and maybe even North America, "Stick that up yours...!"