Placebo: The Friendly Drug Monopoly

Written by Shreyas Melbuddhi

This is the first article in “The Scranton Report” where one post is added to the series every month. These articles are written over a period of time and a lot of fun-filled work goes into making these happen. Let’s go!

The word placebo comes from Latin, like most of English I know. It’s literal meaning (in Latin) is on the terms of “I shall please.” Used in the 21st Century with the context being a little far from the original notions, but much closer. It is no longer restricted on the basis of “pleasing.” On the sweet ambiguous contrary, it is more about pleasing yourself in a way. You might have heard about the placebo effect if you are familiar with medicine. The medical industry, as I am observing while working on this article, has evolved itself to a new state. From being an institution of help to an industry saving lives. I always heard about the cruel business. When you visit a hospital, it mostly becomes the word of talk to point out the faults in the system.

And, the placebo effect explores this kind of evolution very closely.

Photo by Anna Shvets

Strong believers of medicine are helping do this with amusing results, repeatedly. They are rerouting the path it has set for itself on the same grounds it had been growing from the start.

I wanted to learn about the placebo effect to know how influential our mind is in the way we all function. And also, the fact that one of my friend uses it on the same basis of foul language in our city. We use a lot of foul language, without the least kind of regret in Hubballi. Duck, now.

I might have understood how influential the mind is, but there’s another important pattern to observe here on the study of placebo. The many useless operations on a body are being discovered with the help of experiments based on this very effect. We now know many steps in a medical operation proven, or hopefully proven, to be less effective on the whole process when done as an “act.” The pattern of commercialization is inevitable for this article to be whole to me. So, the business had to be addressed.

What is this act? Are doctors even theater artists to do it? Why do they do it? The mission is to get answers, Captain.

Press “2” to continue. You’ll find it somewhere below.

Book Stranger

Wonder do I hourly
Juggling, kick the scar low
Rock slip fairly
Juggling, kick the scar low

Willy done with the hill
Jeopardy, one won’t be
Reels went on to fill
Jeopardy, one won’t be

Wired to the source out
Jill, jiggled joyful
Running to the fallout
Jill, jiggled joyful

Wonder do I timely
Jogging, to my beats
Ruin hunts for Presley
Juggling, to my deeds

When in ICU: The Music is Different

This one needs Metamorphosis. A great piece by Philip Glass. It is today that I get to know I have never really acknowledged the musician. But, it is only fair not having done that because I put on Glass when writing screenplays. The keyboard is my piano and the words are what my music is. I feel like I am telling the world a secret ritual to my process, but there’s only one rule to my writing – there are no secrets.

Music is not the ritual, but writing itself.

I’ll do whatever it takes to give the message. It’s in my roots also not to care how well I do it. It is only during writing that I am more sure about the good wonders of this planet. Honesty, of all.

Today, the word given as a prompt feels much more than just the basis to start writing. Because, this word is not only an aid. It is what music defines and is defined by. Here’s my score for you today.


Few minutes before I saw today’s prompt given by WordPress, I was sitting with the family. Doing the regular talk we have managed to bring back in the house, I realise daily – we had it before. It’s always not enough to get the feeling of family. Always wanting for more, I never fail to get it.

I mention to my dad that I felt some sensation in the chest. A pinch-like feeling and the acidic nature. He said it could be the extreme temperatures, which we would later decide to be the right explanation. But, before that – just to be sure about the conclusions we were about to make, I was made to check my heart rate. I took four readings and the first one was 78 bmp, 10 numbers far on the scale from the other three readings. All in the normal range. And still, I show my concern to this kind of fluctuation in that one number. That is when my dad mentioned the screens at hospital showing these rates believing it to be the exposition I had wanted. The normalcy behind it. These screens though, remind me of the day I was at an ICU with Ajji. My granny, who’s also a very close friend.

One night, she fell sick. Literal they speak, all words. Emergency kind of sick.

Funny, even now that I realise the kind of responsibility I chose for myself on that day without realising how brave it was of me. I dialed 108 which is what we are supposed to do in a case of medical emergencies and I ask, acting like I have my shit together, the lady on the other side “Hello! My granny is sick. She fell down. We need an ambulance.” I was so sure about conveying how serious the matter was, and yet she did not understand. She was not the time I wanted to waste. I stress even more. She mentions she’ll send one, and also that they will not be taking her to the hospital I mentioned. I thought going to the nearest hospital, two minutes far from our place, would be the right choice. Only to realise this call meant taking her to the Government’s hospital. I cut the call. And, make another one to the hospital I had in mind instead. It did not connect at all to even ring and be denied of an ambulance. This is India, I reminded myself failing to remind me of the situation I was already in. That has become the excuse to many hurdles I might be facing – blaming the system. I am still not sure if it is any more valid than me being born here.

I love my country nonetheless. But, the following events assured me how wrong I was in loving the collective attitude of it’s people being put up as a show. Which is also what I consider a kind of imperfection our planet seems to thrive on but should not.

I go to the hospital. Ask for the ambulance. There is one standing idle, and this makes me a little calmer in the storm. Reminding me of the storm, the ambulance wouldn’t start. We are rushing all the while. The driver asks me to push it from the back. So, I did. Not realising this is how aid to emergencies shouldn’t work.

He tells me he forgot to switch the vehicle on. I couldn’t react. It’s a dark comedy, on the bigger canvas. He drove like the road was not a race track – but as if someone just told he drives slow.

We rush to the house, ‘put’ her in the vehicle and they take her to the casualty section. Where, she was being tested primarily and the care-takers were gifting time to the doctor. During all of this, my cousin managed to faint while I realise I left my slippers at home. And, my granny is still trying to show the concern.

She was taken as soon as they could to the ICU. I just did not have any other element than Ajji in my mind. Making me take decisions of her kind. She would turn out to be fine, later.

The following part – I did not see. Okay?

There’s one doctor. He’s the chief at the unit a grandmother of someone is being treated. And, four (five?) nurses are surrounding this woman to take care of her. Every person is quick and good at what they do. Acting in symphony. Why? The doctor is handling it in a way I had never seen anyone do a situation so panicky. There was blood of all that could have pointed to it, for a viewer. Giving instructions to a nurse, asking the one beside him to note down, and the one at the extreme left to go bring some tool only he’d understand completely while telling what the others had to do too. This felt like music, now that I see. He being the composer. A music about how caring for lives, practice and courage work together. She was saved.

Music in ICU is different just like any other music you listen to might be.

She was at the unit for a time I could not have imagined myself, during then, to stay at home. I went for a night-out with her, at the hospital. She did very well. She’s fine now as anyone and even better. Here’s me and my grandmother stunning the others near our ward:

If anyone’s wondering “What’s ear to ear?”

We watched, she more curiously, a comedy movie. And, we just did more than fine. This woman has taught me a lot about in-dependency, care and love to keep learning no matter what.

Keep learning, it’s easier than Mathematics.

The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.

Audrey Hepburn