She was pretty, pushing 40, and built like a stocky sex kitten. She wore a soft blonde bob and dressed with casual chic. There was some energy about her that caught my eye when she made eye contact. When she finished her call she worked her way back past our table to the table behind us which was filled with other adults and children. She winced as she leaned against an empty chair at our table.
She smiled and look at us and then said, "You two look like you have figured out this retirement thing."
I said, "I hope so." and then I asked if she was OK. She looked in pain.
"Oh, 'Ma'am, I am just fine. I am a warrior and working through this."
Since she clearly was open to talking and we were waiting for our entree, I asked if she had been in an accident.
"Oh, no ma'am, this is the result of a long story...an experiment on my body. I was part of a drug trial at Walter Reed."
Because of her polite and frequent use of "ma'am" that clued me that she was either ex or current military or a southern raised lady.
She proceeded to tell us in a somewhat disjointed and lawyerly fashion that she was planning on an anonymous lawsuit so that others who had been in the same drug trial that debilitated her would get money when she won it. She said that the drug had been 'black-boxed' now due to her campaign and while it was still advertised on TV, she said it could destroy lives. She had taken it 10 years ago right before/after FDA approved it. She was now being treated in one of the best, small, unknown and black hospitals in the city and she would not tell us its name...but "we could figure it out because we are smart people."
She also indicated she was married to a doctor who had lost his privileges at his hospital because he was outspoken and a warrior like her. He now worked as an emergency doctor rotating through three hospitals in the area. "We can afford this lawsuit and others cannot, so I feel it is right to pursue it."
We talked a little more about the illness although she continued to be cryptic because of her upcoming lawsuit and a little about how she had captured her husband when they first met knowing this was the love of her life and then she hobbled back to her family as they began to leave the restaurant.
Why people feel like sharing with us I do not know. Hubby and I realized we must be looking our age, as she automatically assumed we were retired. It was Memorial Day...so we could have both been off work...if we looked like we had the stamina to still work...which I guess we did not! But we did look like the kind of people that one could share plans with for an anonymous lawsuit.
Anyway, I know a little about the FDA and have a friend who had worked there. I know how budget constraints over decades and political interference and the pressure from the pharmaceutical industry had compromised its mission so much, and I guess I now saw what might or might not have been the result of a rush to market drug in real life.
But then we really don't need a gov'ment interfering in our lives, do we? Pharmaceutical panels are just as concerned for our health and safety as insurance panels...right? (I have got to stop this anger or I am going to need drugs...Om mani padme hum....OMG!)