Friday, October 29, 2010


I have a holy Thursday night tradition. Okay, perhaps not so holy to the rest of the world, but come Thursday at 9 AM, Grey’s Anatomy comes on and the tradition has proven therapeutic for me.
I was thrilled to see the character of Mary, a woman who had appeared in last season’s big finale, come back to the hospital for her ostomy reversal. Particularly because I feel a part of the ostomy community, I was enthralled with her story line. The episode oscillated between a few story lines, one including a man getting a bilateral arm transplant. I understand that sewing new arms on a man beats a bag in terms of excitability, but still, both stories deserved to be done right.
I was slightly dismayed that they didn’t show a bag on Mary’s abdomen, but yet they showed the arm transplant. They didn’t explain why she had an ostomy to begin with, or any of the technical words they were using. And the worst part was that they decided to have her surgery - the one hour reversal surgery - to render her brain-dead and essentially kill her. Now, I understand that those things do happen after routine surgeries, but I was so upset for this particular character’s death.
I spent the last few minutes of the show on my feet, basically stomping in revolt, trying to take some deep breaths. I was so upset, and while I’m overly sensitive since I have an ostomy, it was frustrating and upsetting to see the continuation of the tradition of veiling GI disorders and treatments.
Still enraged by the story line, I vented to my friend and her roommate. The roommate blinked back at me when I made a comment about my ileostomy, and asked what it was. It was the perfect opportunity to launch into what the show had not - information and awareness. I explained the terms to her, allowed her to ask questions, and she sat back in her desk chair and expressed her amazement at the procedure. In five minutes I had laid the ground for a new tradition of openness about my ostomy for others.
It sounds dramatic to say that we’re fighting for awareness - but we are. It’s a battle to change the stigma and change the traditions of how people think. But we need to. And we will.
And before we know it, the useless tradition we’ve all habituated to of being sick will be obsolete, because our battle will have won us a cure.


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