Push one of epi: A look into medical tv series

Anyone who knows me knows one thing. That I’m self proclaimed “medical show trash”. The interest comes from a love of medical series that my mom, who’s worked at hospitals and medical offices since before I was born, and I watched together. This summer I decided to binge two historic medical tv shows, ER and Saint Elsewhere. Two very different shows, but who’s work I can see reflected in current shows.

St Elsewhere really takes a look into doctors personal lives, and brings a sense of identity to the medical community that I argue didn’t really exist before. Doctors in other shows would be white coats with cold personalities that often just were used to scare the character they were treating. With St. Elsewhere we see a surprisingly diverse cast for a show from 1982, with star studded cast such as Denzel Washington and Christina Pickles. I was also interested in not only was there a female doctor, but they did discuss her over working herself to prove her right to be on staff as a doctor and not a nurse. There was a female Asian medical student, and a student that had traveled abroad that didn’t know English. That’s not to say that show didn’t have a problem with racism or sexism, it did through dialogue and story as unfortunately a lot of shows in the 80s and 90s had.

Speaking of the 90s, in 1994 the medical drama ER premiered and I’ve been binging that as well. ER is such essential viewing if you’re interested in creating a drama, or a medical show because it really set off the idea of emergency medicine and how doctors respond to it. It was one of the longest reigning drama shows on US network television with a record 15 seasons, only rivaled by NBC’s Law&Order with 20 seasons, Law & Order SVU at 19 currently going into the 20th, CSI ended at an equal 15, and the current medical drama Grey’s Anatomy which finished season 13 this year and will be going into 14 in the fall.

ER took the concept of bringing human qualities to those in white coats with a different twist than St. Elsewhere, because what is more dramatic than an Emergency department in downtown Chicago? Location is a very big key reason why this show did so well, shooting in local Chicago areas and developing the industry in the city but also because the amount of trauma they saw seemed relevant to the urban legend of Chicago being such a dangerous city. The cast changes as the seasons grow, and while I have just finished season one I can not speak for the diversity or the topics covered through all 15 years but I can talk about the 26 episodes I have seen. As a viewer you’re thrust into the fray without much explanation of who, what, and where- almost like you’re a medical student alongside doe-eyed John Carter who starts his first surgical ER rotation in the first season.

Notable other series I’ve watched and recommend are: NBC’s The Night Shift, canceled Emily Owens MD (on netflix), Black Box (canceled),  Saving Hope( which is a sort of Canadian Grey’s Anatomy that deals with life between death), Private practice, Code Black, Strong Medicine, Chicago Med, and Rosewood.

I think that medical dramas are such a rich environment that really looks at the human condition in such a unique way. There’s this quality about them that writers should strive for, and that’s what’s so beautiful. The best medical dramas to me are not just the white coat doctors trying to save a life, they’re the ones that show you every person’s flaws. If a doctor believes he’s gods gift by saving lives, the intern who just can’t get their confidence up, the kid who followed the family dream and has yet to find our their passion for the art of medicine- all of these characters that exist alongside us in our own civilization.

What a driving force of Grey’s Anatomy was, is the nostalgic feeling of not knowing what you’re doing as an intern. Things got messy personally, and then the patients reflected the personal challenge in the doctors lives. The key for everything is humanity. To show characters as well rounded individuals.

Some TV doctors you see preforming to their best, being messy but saving the day eventually and you say, I don’t want them to save me- but I argue that one of them probably has and you just didn’t know.

I think that the beauty in TV medical shows is that it’s this secret world, you think just happens there but really it doesn’t. You see what makes the news but you don’t know every story of your local ER. It’s magical to think these situations could exist from interns sleeping with their boss and not knowing, to nurses over dosing, irony of neurosurgeons dying from the lack of head CT, or doctors struggling to not become cold and shells of themselves from working so hard. These are human issues. You can sympathize with these amazing casts.

That is what a medical drama should be. You should feel a pull at your heartstrings from the sheer imagination of real people going through this, but also a wonderment of them pulling off the most heroic day of their lives only to wake up and try to outshine it the next day.

Every day heroes. That’s what they all are at their core, and it’s so beautiful to watch them. Medical dramas teach you about medicine, yourself, and what it takes to be a doctor. I’ve learned so much about who I am from the characters I love, and I’ve learned terms, and how to talk myself through injuries, or situations in my life that parallel the screen. You can always learn from TV, never let anyone tell you that you can’t.

So here’s to the tv doctors, the tv surgeons, to the lives saved at St. Elgis, from Seattle Grace to Grey Sloan Memorial, to Cook County, and the lives lost. Thank you for being there. Thank you for being human.

tea: orange zinger celestial tea

 

 

 

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TV saved my life last fall

This post is going to be deeply personal for me, I just want to preface. I may cover topics such as implied sexual harassment, and mental health so I want to warn readers that I will try my best as to not be overtly detailed as to cause triggers. But I will let you know I do cover those topics. Also I have omitted names, as well as some other fine details because they’re too sensitive or not in my place to speak of.

So I started my first year of college last year. This drastically impacted me being across the country from home, being in a large city, and being alone from all my friends. It’s no surprise I felt depressed at times, or I struggled with opening myself up to making new friends. But something that really hindered this was my living situation at the time. I’ve opened up to close friends who know exactly what happened as I told them in real time because some of what I witnessed or lived through is quite honestly something so bizarre and unspoken about it could be a tv pilot.

But I do want to say that in that time Television was my solace. I had several moments inside my apartment where I did not feel safe. It was during this time that I sought out using the tv as a distraction. Thing is I would binge 30 Rock, and eventually completed the series last fall because it was all my distracted mind could focus on. That and Grey’s Anatomy. Which I had finished the year before and can basically recite like the back of my hand.

Now when I say I didn’t feel safe in my apartment you have to understand some things.

First, I shared a bedroom and a bunk bed with another girl. I was on the top bunk. She over the time spent in our room was a terrible roommate. And no it wasn’t that she was just loud. There’s really no excuse for doing laundry only twice from August 31st to October 28th. She would let her hamper overflow to the point where she began to leave laundry on her bed, she never put away clean clothes so they laid with the soiled ones, and then it became a large pile that stacked all the way up to our window sill. Once I climbed out of bed and found she had thrown a thong onto my chair. This was not all though of course it couldn’t be.

I told you I wasn’t safe.

See as the laundry accumulated, she had also moved out of our room. She began sleeping in our living room next to the couch on the floor, which she littered with instant noodles and chocolate pudding cups. She did not tell us why.  I, being a shy and timid person, had not really interacted with her much. Through all this she had boyfriend troubles so every few nights we all pitched in and did damage control for her emotionally. So as things progressed she just grew angry and agitated, coming back home from spending the night at her boyfriend’s dorm and slamming the bedroom door as she came in while I ‘slept’ (or pretended to be asleep so she wouldn’t talk to me). Throughout this time she had been coming in and out with her boyfriend through the days and there were a lot of moments where they had sex in the bathroom and we all could hear it. There wasn’t so much of a group text to let us know to leave. I was locked out of my bedroom without my phone once. But then she broke up with this boyfriend. There was a period of time where she would bring home random guys.

There is nothing wrong with a woman having a lot of sexual interaction, but when it puts other girls at risk that’s where it’s a problem. Not only was my roommate putting herself in danger with a stranger, she put us in danger as well. One such time when she was agitated if I remember correctly, I did what any logical person would have done. I went to the room next to mine, closed the door, sat on the floor with my other roommates and I made them watch the Grey’s Anatomy pilot.

Watching the pilot made me feel so at peace in a time where I did not know what was going to happen to me. I think what made such an impact on me was that I was watching characters who didn’t have a firm grasp on life as I did in that moment. They felt lost, they felt unsure of the world they had just stepped foot in and so did I. We felt safe for 43 minutes.

Then the random guys brought alcohol into the mix as well. So the girl I shared a bedroom with would bring men we both did not know home, while intoxicated and underage, and not tell any of us. I guess I slept through a few nights where my other roommate walked some of the men out of the apartment in the middle of the night because this girl was too drunk. So as this was happening I was sleeping.

I can not tell this story without mentioning that she sexually harassed my other roommate while drunk however that story is not mine to tell but I will say my story comes back into this because she and I discussed it a few days after.

I felt guilty over it because that was one night when this girl came home very drunk, crying and she eventually called her mom and she was very loud. It was 11 or 12 at night and I had an 8:30 the next morning so I closed our door, and tried to block out the noise. That was when the harassment occurred and I wish that I hadn’t shut down and knew what to do in the situation but I didn’t.

So the victim and I were talking about what happened and about reporting her when she tells me that the girl had been bragging to her the night before about having sex in her bunk with a random guy while I slept.

I couldn’t sleep for weeks. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t feel safe, my privacy had been violated. The worst part of all of that is that I do not know exactly what occurred and I do not know if I myself was touched by them at any point in time. My sense of self was so out of place from then because I truly do not know. I woke up clothed that is all knew.

We eventually reported her and that was when my other roommate and I began to binge Grey’s Anatomy together because it was something that took our mind off of what was happening. Suddenly we were afraid to come home at times we knew she was there.  The process of deciding to report her and to who was a messy blur. I remember hiding at our starbucks around the corner and then in our lobby until I knew she wasn’t there.

But once it came to the time where the sexual harassment offices got involved I did not report, although my roommate reported and then I went with her to follow up meetings with officials to verify her story with my own. It was because of this that the biggest incident happened.

I was sitting, doing homework on a Thursday afternoon where I didn’t have class. Everyone was having class. Or so I thought. She had been taken into the title ix offices and told of the accusations against her. I got a phone call from her that I stupidly picked up.

I heard “Why are you lying,” and I automatically responded by saying that it wasn’t me filing a claim against her that it was the other roommate and it was confidential so I could not discuss the case with her before hanging up.

I felt my heart racing to the point of I felt faint. My face was blushed, I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks. I had no choice, I didn’t know when she was coming home. I did NOT want to see her. I felt in danger. I closed my laptop. I sent an email to my RA, I told her I didn’t feel safe and I also let my other roommate know. She asked me to come to her room. At this point I felt very weak. My heart was pounding in my ears, I felt the need to pack everything up because every bad thing I could think of raced through my head. What if she came back and broke my camera? My laptop? What if she stole my clothes? What if she…what if she-?

I eventually grabbed my purse and made my way down the hall. I knocked on my RA’s door. While I waited the elevator dinged multiple times, and each time I jumped with panic that it was this girl coming back to our apartment. Once inside my RA’s room she led me to her couch while she went to make a phone call to her adviser to tell her the situation.

I found myself on her couch watching whatever she had turned the TV to.

It was Grey’s Anatomy.

I didn’t touch anything, I didn’t even realize until my heart had slowed down and I heard that voice that made my days so much better.

Grey’s Anatomy actually saved my life. Hearing just the familiar voice of Meredith Grey that I had developed a connection to over 13 seasons actually ended my panic attack. At that moment nothing mattered. I watched for those five minutes before my RA came back in and talked to me. Those five minutes took me away from the emotional hell I had been living in for weeks. It took me to a hospital where I knew everyone’s name, and I didn’t feel at fear for what could happen to me. That’s all that mattered. Grey’s Anatomy made me feel safe. I will always be in debt to Shonda Rhimes, and to the cast, to Ellen Pompeo- for making a show so full of heart that it became the light in my dark.

and to my RA for  having it on. She didn’t know. She was catching up on some studying with it on as background noise when I came to her. TV transcends itself by being such a staple we live on and for me it was such a sign. TV came to me when I needed it the most. I needed it for an escape and it provided that. I don’t know what would have happened had it not been playing when I came over because it was such a terrifying situation. This girl was also bipolar and off her medication and had been for weeks. Her behavior was erratic and extreme which made me fear for my safety a lot and knowing she was angry at me led me to a lot of anxious thoughts.

Now that she’s gone, Grey’s doesn’t leave our TV often. After having binged the entire show my roommate promptly started again. It’s on when we eat, it’s on while we study- it brings peace to us because we had to make our apartment our safe space again. We didn’t move out, she did. But the places where she hurt us were still there.

“When something bad happens there’s always a handful of beautiful things that come out of it “- Ellen Pompeo

I write this because I was just diagnosed with anxiety/depression and I made a promise to myself. If Greys can last this long, why can’t I? Obviously my livelihood does not depend on the show but understanding that I have over 300 options of episodes to calm me down during the worst of times is comforting. It is time that I stop blaming myself, or questioning why this happened to me but to put myself forward to not be prisoner to my anxiety anymore. So what, something bad happened to me but I found beauty in how I was saved.

“What’s broken can be mended, what’s hurt can be healed. No matter how dark it gets, the sun’s gonna rise again”- Meredith Grey.

TV will always be there next year too.

It’ll be there and it’ll be safe.

tea: wildberry zinger 

Spring forward

“I think we all should just go there, you know tell the truth, go with your gut, follow your instincts”- Meredith Grey

What is a spring forward to you? Is it just time changing and you cleaning away all evidence of winter? Or is it a lifestyle change?

I think we all would love to make that leap, change that bad habit- it’s kind of like pressing restart on your new years resolution. We all could use one of those right? Most days it hurts too much, you’re too tired to care about what you eat, you get petty and can’t take what you say back…we all have those days. But what about springing forward your career?

Take advantage of that career. There is something out there looming over you, maybe even staring at you in the face and you’re pushing it away. Is it too far away and you don’t want to pay for that Uber? Is it at an inconvenient time? Are you too insecure over your own talents to make the plunge?

I understand you. I’m notorious at letting things pass by, or not believing in them fully. That’s not always the best thing and I know that. That type of thinking can plague a project to its eventual doom. Maybe it’s finally time to embrace that book we all read last year. Come on, we all read ‘Year Of Yes’; and if you haven’t get on that Amazon shopping trip. And you know what, I think that no matter what you can’t pressure yourself into doing better.

Never pressure yourself. Positive or negative you shouldn’t feel pressure. If you don’t want it deep inside yourself, it’s not worth it. If you can’t do it with ease, or tell yourself you can make it at least partially- never do it. It’s okay to stay in your comfort zone because the comfort zone isn’t static. The comfort zone is what you think you can handle, which isn’t always reflective of the actual amount that you can handle. You can handle more than you think or less that you think depending on you.

Yes,

YOU

Personally I’ve let a lot anxiety ruin plans for me and I work on myself each and every day to remove that anxiety.  I got over a lot of my traveling fears this past year because I had to fly back and forth from Chicago to California from school to home for example. I don’t like to promise myself anything because that gives me, guess what? Pressure.

I think that we all spring ourselves forward and this is really the time to do it. While thinking about opportunity and chance,  I’m sitting here right now typing when I have multiple live show requests for volunteering open on my email. See I have a pretty complicated schedule and I’m afraid I’ll be too busy with anatomy homework to have time. I’ve previously worked on this show I have an offer for about three times now, and I love it each time. But am I really going to have all my anatomy work piled up? Or am I just overwhelming myself and I should take time out to do something I love?

You need to take those chances. Everything you can. Do it. Take the risk.

Thinking about this and the chances that I do have and I lost over the years. I’ll keep this short since I’m sure you’ve all read my multiple posts about Paley Fest, and I don’t want to repeat them. Just in speaking about things they brought up, and the whole idea of motherhood and having opportunities with your mother are really important. I took that chance, I stepped forward and I asked my mom on a whim if she wanted to go to Paley Fest over spring break. I was like, consider it part of my birthday gift so you don’t have to give me anything in May. And really it was about us going to something together, for something we both enjoyed together and that brought us closer.

13×18, which airs this week, discussed the topic of Maggie’s mother giving Maggie advice. The advice she gives Maggie is to let loose. She tells her all sorts of things about how Maggie is preoccupied with being the best, or the straightest ruler- she’s very focused on her future being just how she wants it to be. Unplanned situations often rile her up. I feel this, I feel this a lot. I plan out every word I’m going to say when I go to order food, or I practice simple conversations before I actually try to make one with anyone. I have to have control, to have order. But due to that I’ve missed so much.  There’s sort of no end to the amount of parallel between Grey’s and my own life but just to really hear that in the dark Dolby Theatre with my mom beside me kind of made me feel things. Like it was my time. I was ready. I need to be ready to make a leap. And just the whole chance that I was given the material presented the way it was in 13×18 is again due to the whole idea of taking a chance. Ellen Pompeo didn’t exactly want to direct an episode so willingly. She didn’t wake up and say, wow I want to break boundaries for women in television today. Okay maybe she did, she’s kind of a badass like that but the whole aspect and idea came from Debbie Allen presenting the idea to her.

I don’t know if Debbie put together the reasoning I did, which is that a mother based episode being directed by someone who lost their mother when they were young is an amazing creative choice in terms of emotion. Which Debbie did say Ellen was very in touch with during a recent interview.

But again the point with me talking about that is that Ellen took a huge risk. She put herself forward, she said yes. She became eager to learn and part of the process of allowing yourself to take a chance, or to be bold is allowing yourself to learn. I’m sure she struggled. We all struggle. To struggle is to be human. We are inherently flawed, but taking that risk and coming out in flying colors and to be confident with what ever mess you think you made is worth it. Make your mistakes worth making.

Spring forward into your passion.

Please do

sincerely the millennial who may or may not have already broken this promise to herself. But it’s okay, she can pick herself up and spring forward whenever she wants.

Drink: English Tea Shop Chocolate Rooibos vanilla