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  • Writer's pictureShruti

Sunday Breakfast Club: Grey’s Anatomy, S6E21, “How Insensitive”

Grey’s Anatomy has been a favorite guilty pleasure of mine since the show first aired, but lately I’ve been getting more and more bored with the show. So when I was told the latest episode was really worth watching, I obeyed but took the comments with a grain of salt. Turns out, my friends know me quite well.  The episode is about a bariatric patient who comes into the hospital, and they worked it around an underlying theme of patient sensitivity. There were some interesting comments made by the patient, his (thin) wife, and the doctors that are caring for him that got me thinking about perceptions…

The patient is always joking about his weight (calling himself a mountain and so on) and the implications it has for his care. Meanwhile, his wife is forever fighting by his side, insisting that he is just like everyone else. I loved the wife character – she was bold and quirky. Totally willing to put people in their place for being obviously inappropriate, rude, nosy and just plain mean: “It’s easy to make jokes about him. You didn’t know him before. You don’t know that inside all that is the man I’ve always known.”  “Joke with him. Make him feel like a person.”

How often do I try to tell people that while I might look different and no longer be able to do things I could before, I am still me somewhere inside a very sick body? I hate when people treat me like an invalid or act like I’m exaggerating how ill I am. This is me… it’s still the me that was in here before… I just don’t have the energy to show you that all the time …

An exchange between 2 doctors:

Dr. Shephard: [after saying they should send the patient a specialist center that’s set up for this type of patient] – instead of “spending our time and resources caring for someone who obviously doesn’t care for himself.” Chief Webber: He has an illness that he can’t control… he needs help.

I mention this quote, because I think it’s a really key point that many of us have faced. People don’t always think we’re “trying” to get past our illness. They suggest that we pray more or differently, tell us about some remedy or another, or worst of all tell us to “just get past it already, forget and move on already.”

Dr. Karev “selfish […] I’m sorry that we’ve been tiptoeing around you all day trying not to make jokes. But you’re the one that’s gotta stop. Stop calling yourself the fat guy. […] I know what it’s like to have life hand you so much crap that you just wanna sit on the couch and die. But you gotta look at what’s in front of you.  [reminds him that he has a wife that loves him and a baby on the way]”

This is the quote that I really wanted to fixate on. He tells the patient not to joke, but I don’t think moving past this stage into a healthier life should mean that he shouldn’t be able to joke around about his illnesses. Having a chronic illness isn’t an easy place to be, and sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself to get through it because there’s nothing else left to do.  That being said, I think the end of the quote made a point. There are definitely days when I think I just want to be done with it all, and that nothing is worth this… but there is always something in the future that reminds me that there are still things worth living for in this world. For me, it’s my family and the friends I rely on all over the world. And the reminder that I’m working towards a degree I’ve wanted since childhood – a central life goal. A lot has stood in my way, but I’m not going to let this illness stop me from something so near and dear to my heart.

So, readers, what think you? What keeps you going when life has you wanting to sit on the couch and die?

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