Grey’s Anatomy (Season Five) – A Review

So my Thursday nights are taken up by a group of hot, young surgeons in training at Seattle Grace Hospital, the top teaching hospital, in competition with one another. Each dealing with life,love, and loss on a daily basis and whose problems and lives seem more intense in their life and death world. The doctors of Grey’s Anatomy struggle to be great professionally and personally, the two rarely coinciding due to their overly complicated personal lives.

“I’m leaning into the fear to get a happy ending.” –Meredith

Because all of the doctors are hot, and where would we be without hot docs, the show revolves around their bed-hopping, I mean, relationships. Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) explore the idea of a long term relationship. Dr. Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) and Dr. Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith) explore their budding lesbian relationship. Also in the sprawling, ever-changing cast, Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) joins as he and Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) explore a tentative relationship as he deals with his demons and history of hurts.

“Reality is so much more interesting than living happily ever after.” –Meredith

The reality is that they are all learning how to deal with the pain of living in a fallen world. They use alcohol and sex to bandage the hurts within them, eventually forging friendships and becoming family as they learn to lean on each other to get through the harsh hands life deals at them. In the process, “little pieces of you get chipped away” or you “shave pieces of yourself” so that you fit better with one another.

They, as well as the cases they encounter, learn that there are no warranties on friendships or any relationships. Friendships can be betrayed by wrong, stupid, and selfish decisions or pride and using people as balms for internal hurts. That no matter how much one might have thought of themselves as good, a person can come into their lives and reduce them to “that crazy person” as a consequence of the wounds people do to one another in relationships.

“I forgot about God.” –Bailey

They also learn to listen with their hearts, to forgive and make things right. Always striving to love better. To be each other’s “person”: the people who know us “darkly, really knows us.” Or, as Meredith sums things up, “it’s important to tell the people you love how much you love them while they can hear you.”

Despite its convoluted romantic storylines, the show is designed with intelligence. The cases comment on the characters, and the characters often comment on the show (like when the chief says, “We’ve been resting on our laurels. … It stops, and it stops now”; and acknowledgement that the show rights itself, as it had rather meandered through the previous season). And it digs deeper than most, getting at some truths about humanity and relationships.

The Catheter Incident

The last two weeks of Grey’s Anatomy have been particularly uncomfortable to watch. It’s my wife’s favorite show and she forgot to warn me about it One of the storylines featured a character who had a form of severe scoliosis. I had scoliosis and had to have surgery to correct it. It’s been 20 years now and I still remember the surgery like it was yesterday. Particularly what I will refer to as “the catheter incident.”

My parents began having me checked for scoliosis in fourth grade. Every year I got checked out and every year I was told that there was a slight curvature but “we’d” keep an eye on. Well, one year “we” decided that some time between the previous year and that year, the curve went from slight to “in need of surgery to correct”. I was fifteen years old.

The night before the surgery, the doctor and nurse come in to go over the procedure of the next day. The briefly mentioned something about a catheter and moved on to issues of anaesthesia, recovery, etc. Since I was more concerned about the risks of paralysis, I never stopped to ask about what exactly this “catheter” thing was.

The next morning, 5 in the morning (since time has little meaning in a hospital), a nurse comes in to begin all of the pre-op stuff they had to do. She ended with, “I’ll be back to put in your catheter.” When she comes in, she has the “stuff” and let’s me know that it was time to put in the catheter. So I open my mouth.

“What are you doing?”
“You have to put in my catheter, right?”
“Yeah.”
“It’s like taking my temperature, right?”
“Not exactly. This,” she pointed to the tubing, “has to go, in there.”

I didn’t like where she pointed next.

“You’re kidding.” I started to laugh, waiting for the Candid Camera guy to pop out (hey, this was nearly 20 years before Punk’d).
“No. Didn’t someone explain this to you?”
“Obviously not clear enough. That’s thicker than a pencil and there’s no way THAT is going THERE.” Not to mention, THERE, sensing a threat, was begin to experience what we’ll refer to as a “turtling effect”. “Can’t you put me to sleep to put it in?”
“No. And we don’t have all day. The sooner we get started, the sooner it will be over.”
Apparently she underestimated my resolve.

Now, I’m not exactly proud of the next few moments. It began with the nurse grabbing THERE and my foot reflexively responding to “push away” the threat. Then came the chase, which involved me running around my bed in a desperate bid to keep THAT from going THERE. Apparently there was some girl-like yelling involved because my mother popped her head in to ask what the problem was. The nurse explained the situation and my mom, also being a nurse, quickly got the picture. My mom turned to me and assured me “I’ll handle this,” then walked the nurse outside. She came back in a few minutes later and told me that they had come to a different arrangement and there was nothing to worry about. I needed to get back into bed until the doctor arrived.

My mother. My savior.

I got back into bed and asked “what sort of arrangements?”

My mother then jumped on my chest and yelled “Got him!” The nurse rushed in while my mother had me pinned to the bed. Then the nurse quickly and roughly, in part a payback for the kick, put THAT … THERE.

It was the longest morning of my life.

Luckily, the surgery went picture perfect. I even got used to the catheter thing. Sure, I had the occasional hospital visitor make fun of it, but I began thinking of it as an extension of me. I even began listing practical uses for it. Why? Because it was in now and in case you missed that part about me living by a code, no one was messing with THERE if I could help it. New rod along my spine or no, I still had two feet that said no nurse would be messing with me. So when the nurse came in with gloves on and that “I don’t want to have to do this” look on her face, I told her that THAT was simply going to have to come home with me. She left for a few minutes, then came back and said “fine, do what you want. It’s not worth the hassle anyway.”

Just then, the phone rang.

“Hello.”
“Hey son.”
“Hey mom. What’s up?”
“Yeah, sorry about this.”

At which point the nurse grabbed THERE and whisked THAT out of me to the sound of another girl-ish scream that sounded like her soul was being removed. Thus endeth the catheter incident. Ironically enough, a childhood friend of mine was due to have the exact same surgery as me the following weekend. Same doctor, same hospital. Oddly enough, they put him to sleep before they put THAT … THERE.

Sort of put a damper on this song, doesn’t it? All this because I’m about to sit down and what this week’s episode … with one eye open.

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