On and In Defence of Medical TV Show Addiction

There was a time where I wanted to be a doctor more than anything. An epiphany in year 12 caused me to change course, but before then it was what I wanted my life to be. Before I actually thought about it in an adult way, it was my eight year old self who first came up with this idea. What put this idea in my head was an episode of ERcirca 2002. I watched Abby Lockhart perform a perfect suture, Luca Kovac pop a bulging eyeball back into its socket with a paper clip, and Neela Rasgotra perform a life-saving emergency surgery. I loved it. Other people thought that was gross, or weird; I thought it was brilliant.

While the career departed, the love of ER and other medical tv shows didn’t. In fact, my Dad introduced me to “vintage ER” (Seasons 1-8) and my love deepened. Why? Mark Greene. Something about him….perfectly nerdy, shy, and smart but also a social warrior, a good friend and mentor. For a long time, he was one of the many fictional doctors I wanted to be like. Before vintage ER, there was the introduction of another show that would soon become one of TV’s most popular medical dramas. House M.D. The brilliant Hugh Laurie as Gregory House became a new favourite, while his oncologist best friend James Wilson became another career model. As I got older and learnt more and more about medicine I became involved in that show. How does one get involved in a fictional hospital you ask? Well it goes something like this…

*House and team rush a patient to emergency surgery and perform a life-saving procedure*

Me: none of them are surgeons! Does no one else work there? This is an intraperitoneal haemorrhage!! Where’s the actual surgeon? Oh hell to the no, they are not doing a laparascopic procedure. This is clearly the time for an exploratory laparotomy! 

While my father looks frightened in the corner….

This ladies and gents is one of the clear signs of my addiction to medical tv shows. But it’s an addiction I’m glad to have. When I meet someone else who feels the same we, the way we talk makes me feel instantly connected to them. Some of the best conversation starters I’ve had have been with House/Greys Anatomy/ER fans who are as insane as I am. Many of us feel similar connections to other television programs, we become attached to the characters, their stories and their lives. When a favourite character dies, we cry as if they were a real person because to us they are. (I still can’t watch season 8, ep 21 of ER…oh Mark….). It’s fun, it’s an escape, it’s a form of social bonding. 

While my career is now headed towards teaching, I have learnt many things from these shows…seriously. How to think like a scientist I learnt from House, how to be a good teacher/mentor I learnt from Mark Greene, and how to be strong even when the world is dealing you a crap hand I learnt from Meredith Grey. You and I both know these aren’t real people, they’re just Hugh Laurie, Anthony Edwards and Ellen Pompeo being really good at their jobs, but we can still learn things from them.

And every time I watch ER, I’m eight years old again, staring in wonder at this thing of beauty that my father showed me, happy and dreaming. Who wouldn’t want to feel like that? Image

 

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