Monday, January 21, 2008

An Open Letter to the Writers & Producers of Law & Order

January 2's episode of Law & Order was about assisted suicide. As a person suffering from ALS/Lou Gehrig's disease, I really took affront at the writers' and producers' presentation of the disease. For those of you who did not see the episode, the unit was trying to identify the person who was helping terminally ill patients commit suicide. One of the men was suffering from ALS. You would probably imagine that I'm going to rant about assisted suicide, but that's not the case. The writers had one of the characters actually say, "I understand why he did it. If I had to go through such a horrible disease, I would do it too." 
My concern is twofold. First, it shows the writers' lack of understanding of the disease. This happens quite often on television shows where the writers don't do their homework. Secondly, I'm very concerned about the message being sent to the future ALS patients who have not yet been diagnosed. The episode presents the option of assisted suicide or even suicide. I suspect that most shows of this type are reviewed by the networks' lawyers. It's my opinion that they have a moral obligation and responsibility as well as a legal one. 
This piqued my anger. The following week, I watched an episode about a geneticist who was trying to identify the gay gene prenatally.  This raised the question of whether or not homophobic parents would terminate a pregnancy because of the possibility that their child might be gay. 
Where the hell are the morals and values of the people responsible for letting this type of misinformation go out to the general public? The Evangelical practitioners must be having a field day with this. I'm part of a ALS center community in my area. In the support groups, it's the psychological part of the disease that everybody talks about. The symptoms and the slow loss of bodily functions are indeed tragic, but the one thing that makes the disease unique is that the brain and the mind continue to function, so for a character on a national network show to even imply that suicide might be beneficial is irresponsible. 
There comes a point in the treatment process for each of us when the medical community begins to worry more about keeping us comfortable than actually treating the disease.  So each patient has access to pharmaceuticals that could easily end our lives. I just hope that the episode of Law and Order is not or does not become the reason an ALS patient makes this decision. 
If this indeed becomes the case, I hope you're ready to shoulder the responsibility. 

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Middle-Aged Man's Dissection of Grey's Anatomy

I'm in my second season of viewing Grey's Anatomy every Thursday night with my wife and daughter. Those of you that know me know that I have an opinion on everything. It has been my decision that on every Friday I will blog my version of Thursday night's episode.

For those of you that don't watch the show, I'm going to start by giving you a brief character and structural analysis of the program. It takes place in a large teaching hospital in Seattle. The characters for the most part, are doctors, interns, residents and their family and friends. Having had to deal with the medical profession a number of times throughout my life, it has always been my opinion that due to the time that doctors take with their education; 4 years of college, 4 years of med school, their internship, their residency and then specialization, they are so focused on this that, most if not all, doctors are socially retarded. They may be brilliant in their field but they have a difficult time relating to people. Likewise, I have had experiences with hospital nursing staffs. I have found that most nurses that I have dealt with personally run the gamut from very attractive all the way to a before picture from the Biggest Loser. On Grey's Anatomy, this is not the case. It is as if whoever hires these people, hired them for looks and how easy it is to get in their pants. That goes for the doctors all the way to the hired help.

Those of you that do watch the show that have concerns about the way I described the characters and the program, please feel free to comment.

The basic premise of the show is that Seattle Grace Hospital is a teaching hospital. The characters that interact from week to week are the Chief of Staff, Dr. McDreamy, Dr. McSteamy, Dr Addison Shephard (who spun off to her own show which broke my heart since she was the best looking woman on the show), Dr. Preston Burke, Dr Superbitch Hahn, Dr. Baily (chief resident), Dr. Callie, Dr. Alex Korev, Dr. Izzy Stevens, Dr. Meridith Grey, Dr. Christina Yang, the interns, Dr. O'Mally, and Dr. Lexie Grey and various family members.

I would be hard pressed to recommend any patient to go to Seattle Grace. The show is an adult soap opera which the writers have written to try to make the hospital hierarchy of staff seem human, with all of the good and bad qualities of the average person. Unfortunately, since it is prime time, it is my opinion that as you watch them over time, they are just a bunch of pigs. I would say that all they do is screw like rabbits, but I have had the occasion while hunting to see rabbits in the act and it seemed like a loving experience, the characters on Grey's Anatomy just screw. They do it at each other's apartment, in the on-call room, closets, elevators, roof, cars, in the rain, on a train, in the hall, against the wall -- I think you are catching on. Not only can't they keep their pants on, but they are indiscriminate with their partners. For instance, Dr. McDreamy was married to Addison and left her to come to Seattle because she was shacked up with Dr. McSteamy who was Dr. McDreamy's best friend. Dr. McDreamy was already tapping Dr. Meredith Grey before Addison transferred to Seattle Grace. Of course, the writers in their brilliance also had Dr. McSteamy placed on staff also. This is just the tip of the iceberg. As I stated earlier, they are all socially retarded. Dr. Grey, is obviously according to the title, the impetus for the show, Ok you ready -- her mother was a brilliant surgeon who got Alzheimer's and verbally abused Meredith through most of her life. Her mother and father were divorced and Meredith had step-sisters from his second marriage. Oh..I forgot, her father is an alcoholic and they don't talk. Now one of her step-sisters is an intern at Seattle Grace. McDreamy and Meredith have been going at it for two years, she has trust issues and he is a freakin' wuss who can't confront her and tell her to make up her damn mind. Well...he actually did this week but 4 minutes later after a commercial he asked out a surgical nurse that he kissed last week in the scrub room.

McSteamy, who followed Dr. Addison Grey to Seattle because he thought he loved her, was jilted by her but after a few rolls in the hay, when she spun off to her own show. Dr. O'Mally was sniffing around Callie and they ended up getting married. Before they got married, after a night of drinking, Callie and McSteamy hooked up. George got back by dumping his wife for Izzy. Izzy is an ex-trailer park beauty queen, who used to be a model. So far, she has slept with a terminal patient, who of course left her millions of dollars when he died; Dr. Alex Korev and George O'Mally. Izzy is always crying because she has this undying need to please. Dr. Yang is a brilliant surgery student who screwed her mentor in medical college, shacked up with Dr. Preston Burke, her surgical mentor, but got left at the alter. I hate to say it: she is probably the best doctor, but is the most socially retarded. Dr. Baily, who is the chief resident, is kind of modelling the same behavior of her mentor, the chief of staff. Both have lost their spouses due to their dedication to their profession. Dr. Baily is in the process of trying to make her marriage work, the chief of staff pays lip service to his marriage, but after his wife threw his ass out, one of the first things he did was dye his hair so he would look better for women. Oh yeah, the Chief had an affair with Dr. Grey's mother when she was Chief of Staff several years ago. Have I mentioned that right now, Dr. Meridith Grey, Dr. Lexie Grey, Dr. George O'Mally, Dr. Izzy Stevens and Dr. Alex Korev all live in the same house? I often think I would like to be the condom salesman who delivers to that house.
I have only given you a rough overview of the show. If you are concerned with America's health care, I recommend you do not watch this show. If you want to watch a show where you can learn about medical procedures, watch House. He uses 10 or 12 and almost kills his patients every week, but that medical staff doesn't have any where near as much fun as the Seattle Grace staff.

Ever since I started watching this show, since I am under medical care, and have had to interact with a number of different health care people over the last two years, one of my first questions to them is "Do you watch Grey's Anatomy?". And if they laugh, I ask if they have washed their hands.

Stay tuned to my explanation of next week's Grey's Anatomy episode from my point of view. Hopefully, there will be some good action. In case of the writer's strike continuing, we'll have to wait until they begin again, but you know those men and women are walking the picket line in the sunshine stopping every once in a while saying things like "you know, we're almost out of places for them to do it, and there are only a few combinations left, what do you think about Meredith and Izzy, or Dr. Hahn and Dr. Yang? That would draw a whole new audience."