Thursday, February 21, 2013

Things the TV Medical Shows Do/Don't Tell You... Take One

For those of you who don't regularly set foot in a hospital or even those who do, I have something to tell. Shhh.... I actually have quite a few truths to reveal about Antiseptic City. Given our love of hospital dramas, we might have preconceived notions about this place of gurneys & backward hospital gowns but I am here to tell you life is far different than on TV.

In a series of posts starting today I will let readers in on what I know and what I have experienced as a veteran patient. In and out of doctor offices and hospital rooms has exposed me to hours and hours AND HOURS of real-life "film" of MY OWN. This is what you could call real reality TV if I had a camera.

So, here it goes...


The Michael Jackson Rule 

Like I've said before on this blog I like to use humor to help ease into difficult and nerve-wracking situations, especially medical ones! So, when I go in to meet a new physician, go in for a follow-up visit, or have a pre-op (a day before an operation) appointment it's not to say I have a whole comedy routine or even a set ready but I have a few bits to ease my way into the conversation and relate to the doctor. I once scheduled visits with a neurosurgeon where I used to live and getting THAT man to cut a smile was as difficult as telling the Kardashian gals they weren't going to be on TV anymore.*

Anyway, this man returned to his office post-retirement, beyond SERIOUS in terms of personality, (in my book a dislike but for a surgeon it's still a good trait) he always wore a white doctor coat and khakis to deliver the latest medical news. It took my sheer comedic strength and still a half grin barely appeared across his face. This man could barely smile. With his white coat and boring plaid shirt peering through, he wore hiking boots to the office, a fact I might otherwise admire on other more personable Doctors of Medicine. As for the boots, I often wondered if the laces were tied too tight. Really tight.

Other reputable neurosurgeons were six hours away and over a snowy mountain pass. It was at this time doctors thought I had Neurofibromatosis-1*. My biggest concern then was my arm and hand pain I was having after a recent surgery. My hand was actually not functioning at the time. The surgeon who performed that surgery said the nerve must have stretched during the procedure. 

To see what might be going on Tight-Laced Boots, the neurosurgeon, sent me to get a nerve conduction study on my right and left arms and hands to get a comparison. A nerve conduction study measures how well and how fast the nerves can send electrical signals.

How a Nerve Conduction Study WORKS

When I returned to Dr. Tight Laces office he told me there really wasn't anything he could do for my right hand. At that time, my right hand was scrunched in a fist. Looking at the nerve conduction study results he recommended that I "put a glove on my hand when it gets cold."
 Who SAYS that? Apparently, THIS doctor.
I wanted to put a fist in the air... Or somewhere! 
How DARE he say that! Say it to me.
Does he call that his Michael Jackson approach to medicine? 
I don't even see that kind of careless doctoring on daytime or nighttime medical dramas. 
This is happening to me.
I am stunned.
"Put a glove it!" 
He thought he was pretty clever. 
I swore he grinned.


Whether a doctor can at least smile at my funny one-liners is my way of seeing what sort of bedside manner they have... Truly, if they can answer my questions without rushing out of the room... That all combines into the score: 
10- soft n' fluffy to 0- might as well sit on one of their own instruments

I mean come on it's part of the job just like knowing parts of the body, if you ask me. My toss of a joke here and there is a chance to see what kind of personality they have. After all, these are not knock-knock jokes.* I want to get a sense of who of he/she is and the reaction to a hospital-related funny. 

"I didn't want to come today for the visit but then I remembered the fancy gift shop. If you hurry up, we might make it out of here and get a chance to go shop!"

To the nurse: "Do you have a stamp program like the Subway sandwich shop? After like 10 visits we could get a free massage, a free visit, or... I got it, even better! On the following visit we get to walk right in & see the doctor!"

Laughter aside... 
In all seriousness, the delicate relationship between a doctor and his/her patient is rarely touched upon in a real way on television. It is exaggerated, sex-charged, and/or diagnosed within a 30-minute or 60-minute time-frame. I haven't seen every medical show out there but I would like to see one focus on the doctor-patient-family-relationship in a real way. One show taking an ice pick to that idea was Emily Owens, M.D. but it got canned for no good reason. It detailed in a multi-episode plot how one doctor's mother dealt with cancer. Her son had a hard time dealing with the reality of the situation. It is a shame a show with such potential wasn't given a second season. Shame on Hollywood!

All that said it would be cool to explore the true dynamics within a doctor's or nurse's family. It is something than hasn't been done before. The show, Providence, went there but didn't go deep enough.

Lights, Camera... Hospital?

How about a brand new well-developed character? Cast of characters? What about focusing 
more on the patient-side and have a solid supporting patient character for a dynamic, new
TV medical drama? Just remember this: the hospital, doctors, and nurses would not be there if it wasn't for the patients and their families. 
On TV. 
And in real life.

 ©The Healing Redhead

*Kidding, K-Dash, fans, only kidding! Kris wouldn't have it any other way! 
*I am now diagnosed with Schwannomatosis 
*No offense out there out to knock-knock jokes but a 30-something woman saying one and a cute kiddo saying one are quite different! Bring on the knock-knock jokes!

Images: Microsoft Clipart &  

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