My cold lingered into last week. Since it had been one week too many, I went to see my assigned health care professional. At this point I was given a script for antibiotics and instructions to consume probiotics. Well, the good news is that my original cold symptoms have all but abated. Unfortunately, the antibiotics have waged a savage war with my digestive system. Being the good patient, I have dutifully consumed mass quantities of active culture laced yogurt. This time around, I’ll take the cure over the cold – but it’s no slam dunk. SIDEBAR: I had an interesting conversation about “the placebo effect”. It all started with an innocent question: “do you get a placebo effect if the patient is not sure that a drug will work?” Hey, I thought it was a good question. Anyway, it turns out that placebos are not as well understood as I thought (particularly by me), and it is not always clear that the standard psychological explanation is the only explanation. I was feeling better, I had taken the antibiotic, and I was not sure it would work. I wondered if “the placebo effect” could have been the reason I felt better … and that hasn’t changed since my conversation about placebos. YOU HAVE NOW REACHED THE END OF THE SIDEBAR. Either way, the balance sheet leans towards “feeling better” so I guess I shouldn’t be complaining. But what fun is that? And just think, if I hadn’t brought it up I would know less about placebos. Can you imagine going through life not knowing about placebos? Do someone you love a favor, talk to them about placebos. They’ll be glad you did.