Curmudgeon report: Small print and popping pills are hard to swallow

Have you noticed how print has shrunk?

It is becoming more and more difficult to read almost everything, and the trend is expanding. With the apparent exception of The Virginia Gazette, newspapers have reduced the size of their print. Magazines have done the same. And labels on products keep getting smaller and smaller with no end to the trend in sight.

You almost wonder if a conspiracy is enveloping the writing world. Pick up a package and try to read the instructions. Are you supposed to microwave the food for 4 minutes or do they want you to slit the covering before you do that. Do you zap the contents of the box on high or low setting and then flip it over midway through the heating cycle?

In our house, at least, it has reached the point where we need to use the microscope that now sits next to the stove anytime we have to read a label.

Though the small print phenomenon is annoying to everyone except your local eye doctor, what really galls me is the fact the print is even smaller on your prescription bottles.

Don’t believe me?

Check it out next time you are prescribed a medication, be it for gout or a gastric infection. As for a bottle of eye drops, wouldn’t you expect any prescription for eye medication to be written using the largest letters that fit the page? But no, that does not happen.

If anything, the eye strain necessary to read the label negates the benefits the drops are supposed to provide.

While on the subject of pills, am I the only one who has smoke blowing out of my ears when it is time to refill my pill box each week? If you don’t take pills regularly, there is no need to read further, so that part of my audience can say goodbye. But if you are like me and you pop a half dozen or more little pills, bear with me.

Every Saturday morning I retrieve the family prescription bottles and start filling my Sunday to Saturday medicine dispenser. I never realized doing so would be such a challenge. Some weeks the task is simple: you take five morning pills and six in the evening so that is the number of capsules you put into each slot. But, woe to me on those weeks when the dosage changes. Or try to keep things under control if a particular drug is taken more than once a day.

A dosage change can be overwhelming. If you took 10 mg of drug A and are told to drop the dosage to 5 mg, what do you do? Of course, you probably just filled the 10 mg prescription, so it means cutting pills in half, which sends you off to LaLa Land as you try to swallow the instructions to stay on top of things.

I know. All those pills are essential to your physical well-being. But the effect they have on your mental health negates any positive that comes from pill popping.

You can’t pull out the prescription bottle for help. Remember, it’s print is too small to read. So if you are like me, you grumble, you mumble and you rumble as others in the household abandon your space till you calm down.

Both problems — the small print dilemma and the prescription refill ordeal — should not even be of concern to anyone as long as common sense comes into play. Too often, it doesn’t.

So on our blood-boiling scale, I’d rate these issues at least an 8. What are your thoughts?

Winslow recently moved to Williamsburg, but has written his Curmudgeon Report for more than a dozen years. He wonders how rapidly your blood is boiling on this issue? Let him know at

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