Thursday 7 July 2011

Confessions of a TV addict

All being well, this should appear when I'm eating lunch at placement tomorrow! Hooray for feeling a bit better =)

I've enjoyed the chat on the tops 10s post (thanks guys for all your suggestions - very helpful for me, and I hope for other folk - keep the comments coming!). I've enjoyed it so much in fact that I think it's time for a new series. This one is slightly less serious, but I think it will be amazing (and the rest of you will just have to humour me!).

I'm sick of being compared to Dr House. Yes, we both have awesome walking sticks, but that is pretty much where the similarities end. Except that I am, also, an excellent diagnostician. In fact, I always beat him to the diagnoses the second time of watching.

I'm especially tired of the comparisons because there is no shortage of disabled doctor-ness with which to compare me. At least one lady at church had the imagination to compare me to Kerry Weaver, who is at least female and gay...

It got me to thinking about disabled doctors in TV dramas. And then I got to compiling a list. So, how about a little content analysis of my favourite TV (read : ER, Holby City, House, Grey's Anatomy, Scrubs and Casualty)? As I said, humour me =)

And if you don't think I'll have much to work with (depending on definitions of disability) :
-Dr Carter, ER, substance misuse
- Dr Stevens, Grey's, metastatic melanoma
- Dr "Thirteen" Hadley, House, Huntington's
- Dr Turk, Scrubs, diabetes
- Dr Hunt, Grey's, PTSD
- Dr Casey (Michael J Fox), Scrubs, OCD
- Dr Winters, Casualty, "breakdown"
- Paul Nathan (medical student), ER, Parkinson's
- Dr Burke, Grey's Anatomy, hand issues
- Dr Howard (doesn't get a surname), ER, OCD
- Dr Lockhart, ER, alcohol misuse
- Dr Adams, Holby, Parkinson's
- Dr Romano, ER, upper limb amputee
- Dr Griffin, Holby, (colorectal / liver) cancer

And, of course, Dr Weaver and Dr House.

And that's only the ones I could think of off the top of my head without bothering to go upstairs and look at the list me and the mrs made on the train on Sunday.

I don't quite know what form it will take, but there are definitely themes (such as the miraculous lack of after effects in all but a vanishing minority following hugely traumatic happenings). It'll be a good excuse for me to watch some boxsets if nothing else ;)

Challenge : who can think of more for the list?


  1. Well there's Nick Jordan in Casualty who had a termnal brain tumour but was miracualously healed!

    Years ago in Casualty there was an SHO (before F1/F2 was invented!) who had MS

    I vaguely recall characters with HIV (possibly a nurse rather than a medic though)

    It's a good list!

  2. Hooray Robyn, I'm glad I made the comments work =)

    There was Jeannie from ER who had HIV. I think she was a physician's assistant.

    I did forget about Nick's miraculous recovery. Followed soon after by Ric Griffin's miraculous recovery on Holby City...

  3. Hmm, so there's a theme in Holby... if you are a patient with minor complications you die, but if a staff member either (a) you have a miraculous recovery from terminal conditions or (b) die heroically, preferrably at the hands of a crazed patient.

    I'm glad you made the comments work too!

  4. That does seem to be the way of things, yes. In which case will I die heroically from minor complications?

    I have my list here now, so to add :

    - Dr Barnett, ER, double lower limb amputee
    - Dr Strachan, Holby, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
    - Dr Grey senior, Grey's, Alzheimer's disease

  5. Dr Winters on Casualty was supposed to have a diagnosis of bipolar 1, & take maintenance Lithium IIRC? They had a lot of input from Rethink, I talked to the script advisor there :)

    FWIW, I thought they played that rather well - nice touches, like Ruth wearing lots of make-up when high. They were criticised by some service users for the unrealistic amount of 1:1 Ruth was getting with a senior psychiatrist, not portraying the (usually very traumatic) Section 136 process, and Ruth's being back at work without having to go through fitness to practice procedures, and with no physical injury, only three weeks after a serious suicide attempt.

    I'm not a regular Casualty watcher though, I've only seen those episodes.

  6. @Robyn - the HIV+ character in Casualty was a gay nurse called Adam, he had to leave when the local paper found out his HIV status. Was watching it with Mum when I was little :)

  7. Thanks tiredlegs. Even I was quite young then... or so I claim!

  8. =) I thought they did the pre-diagnosis stuff well too, but I shared the frustrations you mentioned. Plus I don't think any of her colleagues have bitched about her at all, which is unfortunately probably less than realistic. The sectioning process was pretty classic TV-style...bundled into a lift kicking and screaming by a bunch of people and not seen again until she'd calmed down.

    All in all, better than usual I guess...

  9. Yes They've not tried to portray the ongoing physical issues that Ruth would be dealing with on Lithium even if it 'fixed' her - from time off for blood tests (trying to convince my hospital that they should have flexible, timed appointments instead of 'just turn up to Clozaril clinic on a Tuesday afternoon & wait' if they want us to all be back to work...), to needing to drink 6+ litres of water a day & consequent loo breaks, weight gain, hair loss, toxicity esp in hot weather, poor co-ordination...
    Not as exciting I suppose.

    You are so right about the sectioning. It's really annoying, showing people how to sensibly get help for someone in crisis could be life-saving, but doing it wrong gives you so much more drama potential, so it always happens.

    The day I see someone on TV consult a WRAP plan or crisis card, and calmly phone the local crisis team for a proper assessment, before the prospective patient is waving a knife around with back-combed hair & smeared lipstick, I shall write in with congratulations. It's as bad as getting CPR wrong.

  10. Yes, that's so true - and not just of MH issues - you never see doctors really appropriately seeking help for anything... It's all 'my colleague noticed obvious signs that I'd been completely avoiding', or some kind of dramatic ridiculously traumatic and always life-threatening crisis or trauma.

    TV as a rule tends to be shite at portraying ongoing chronic illness - when people are in crisis, they'll show that, but never the meds, or boring day-to-day struggle on the bus, or round the house, or banging your head off the brick wall that GPs can be.

    And everyone has a team that bends over backwards to provide times that work, who go out of their way to help.

    (Don't get me started about CPR!...)

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