In late seventies, when I decided to make pharma selling as my career, I never imagined the surprises awaited me. From the first day of training programme, which lasted for a month, there was no dearth for surprises, and I should admit many were pleasant. During the training programme, I started learning enthusiastically little bit of human physiology, anatomy and pharmacology, besides the nuances involved in pharma selling. I was enthusiastic since I misread the title of a book given to me as "Anatomy and Physiology of Nurses" instead of the original title "Anatomy and Physiology for Nurses".
My stint in pharma selling had taught me some valuable lessons in tiding over difficult situations. I don't know whether to owe it to my acquired knowledge of pharmaceuticals or sales, or a combination of both.
Having conditioned and indoctrinated for long in class-room training, where one training manager would have a field's day on several new recruits in a classroom; and field training, where a manager would convert every bit of field- bus station, bus and train journeys, doctors' waiting room and chemists counters, into an improvised classroom; I was compelled to learn that my product was the best. As an ideal student, I learnt to believe that everything pertaining to me was the best including my health, obviating the need for me to experiment the medicines I sold, contributing to my sound health in turn.
One of the medicines I promoted to the doctors, to be tried on unsuspecting public was a brand intended to relieve the symptoms associated with Migraine. It was a combination of all possible poisonous substances, major being "ergotamine", which is derived from the fungus infected "ergot of rye", which has the capacity to shrink blood vessels, technically known as vasoconstrictors. By constricting the dilated arteries to the head, which had caused that pounding head-ache known as throbbing, this medicine, I was taught to believe has the capacity to alleviate the head-ache due to migraine. To improve the veracity of sales statements, I was briefed to caution the doctors, that this medicine should not be prescribed during pregnancy and as a standard procedure, not more than four tablets per day and not more than ten tablets in a week should be prescribed for all others.
In 80's during the first trimester of pregnancy, my wife had severe bouts of migraine one night, and demanded me to give the medicine for migraine, which was in my possession as physicians' sample. Her migraine had numbed all her other mental faculties, whereas it had sharpened my bluffing skills, so as to save the foetus growing in her womb from drug induced abnormalities. Without switching on the lights of the bedroom, I stomped across the living room to the store room, where I had kept all the physician's samples. After getting what I was searching for, I walked up to the bedroom and made her swallow two tablets with a cup of water, without switching on the lights of the bedroom. After half an hour she felt the head-ache was tolerable and went back to sleep. What I gave her that night, was not the medicine intended for migraine, but a "placebo"; again a valuable information I picked up during the training programme. Placebo is a blank drug without any therapeutic action, used in double blind trials, to evaluate the true physiological potential of a drug against the false psychological effects. The two tablets I gave to my wife were nothing but B-complex supplements.
Though I avoided a potential disaster by administering a "placebo" to my wife during her pregnancy, her migraine continued to be a cause for my head-ache. She tried different medicines and therapies, ranging from Ayur Veda, Homeopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Reiki, which made many practitioners richer by knowledge and purse, but she continued to suffer from frequent bouts of migraine.
One doctor with a scientific bent of mind suggested her to keep a tab of food she consumed, so that he could discover the food item which triggered her migraine. My wife picked up abundant knowledge about migraine from him, and she learnt that migraine is triggered by hunger, food, tension, and certain spices too trigger migraines. His logic was to identify the trigger of migraine, so that it could be avoided to avoid migraine. Her methodical documentation of food and spices eaten was of little use, since her migraine was triggered by almost everything. After eliminating many food items including spices, as the source for her migraine, the doctor concluded "tension" as the causative factor for her migraine, and my wife concluded "spouse" as the causative factor for her tension.
After so much of research, my wife concluded that migraine could never be cured but avoided, and realised that spouse could neither be cured nor avoided. She started believing in the dictum "what cannot be cured should be endured". A chance discovery of mine rescued her from the sufferings of migraine. When tried on her, the associated complaints of throbbing headache, nausea, photophobia and spousophobia of migraine dramatically stopped, relieving my head-aches too.
One day I told her after my chance tumbling, that migraine afflicts only intelligent people and her face brightened like a thousand watt incandescent bulb. Her joy was twofold, since science declared her to be intelligent and more because I don't get bouts of migraine.