Friday, September 10, 2010

Grey's Therapy

Having IBD not only brings things like pain, blood loss, weight loss, medications, and hospitalizations - but it also brings things like habits and rituals. For me, during a flare-up I crave tortilla chips and jujubes, depend on my magic bag to live, and will only use Charmin toilet paper. I bring stuffed animals to the hospitals, books of Sudoku, and piles of Grey’s Anatomy DVDs. Watching Grey’s is more than just a pastime, it’s like comfort food - but so much better.

I own all of the seasons and have watched them all multiple times - plus seeing them on television when they aired. I love the characters, the wit, the cases, and the careful philosophical undertones to the show. Even though I know realistically that Dr. Meredith Grey does not exist, the characters are like friends and I glean comfort and support from watching them time and time again.

I like many of the quotes from Grey’s, and one recently struck me as a sentiment I have struggled with in the past. In the sixth season opener, Dr. Owen Hunt tells a trauma patient who is refusing her treatment that she was to ‘work’, that ‘now is the time to work’, to paraphrase him. As an IBD patient, getting similar news of having to be the one to rebuild our lives after each flare up, it can be endlessly frustrating. I often want to stomp my feet and scream, asking the doctors if they have rallied back from flares or if they think that their advice is helpful. It’s not like we asked for IBD, why should we have to be the ones to work so hard just to attempt normalcy?

Of course there is no answer to that question. The world is not a fair place and bad things happen to good people, and sometimes people who have done no harm suffer vast amounts by no fault of their own. No matter how unfortunate or cruel the world seems, it’s not going away. So sometimes we have to ‘work’ to overcome the bodies we are trapped in, but more times than not, that work is absolutely worth it.

The medical world is not a replica of Grey’s Anatomy and there aren’t happy endings at the end of every story. We don’t have soundtracks to our hospital stays and we can’t flip ahead in the script to see how things will turn out. But I continue to watch, to re-watch, to love the characters and laugh with them, because it is my Grey’s therapy.

To leave you with a memorable and frequent quote from the show, as neurosurgeon Derek Shepherd says, “it’s a beautiful day to save lives.”

And remember, each day is a beautiful day to live your life.


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