Friday, September 8, 2017

MS on Television: The Night Shift, part 2

I expected the MS storyline on The Night Shift to fizzle away and I didn't think we'd ever see the character again, but she's back. And the MS storyline is as ridiculous as ever, if not more so.

When we left off, the doc was off for "treatment" and said that as soon as her treatment was done, she'd be back on the ground in Syria. Her "treatment" now apparently "done," she shows up in Texas instead. Her main purpose is to be a source of conflict as a love interest for a main character doc who is still in love with another main character doc. So I get that this MS storyline is just a means to that end, but come on! You guys can do better.

I waited on bated breath to see if her MS or her mysterious treatment would come up at all. She looked good  (Did I just pull the dreaded "but you look so good!"??? Sorry, my bad, I should know better.), not having any of the obvious physical signs she was showing before. In fact, she was training people on combat medicine and running through an actual active shooter situation. The "treatment" must have worked like a charm!

running while loaded down with gear while an active shooter is on the loose

I was surprised when her health did come up. Later in the episode, she apologizes to the main character doc who is the ex of her current love interest, saying "Sorry, I'm peevish these days. My treatments aren't going well." [This character has never been anything other than peevish, as far as I'm concerned.]

Other doc asks, "Treatments?

She says, "I have MS. TC didn't tell you?"

"Uh, no. He didn't. Do you mind me asking what kind of medications you're taking?"

Then another doc interrupts them and I yell at the TV because I also want to know the answer to that question!

But later, they talk again. We never learn what her mysterious treatment is or exactly why/how it is not going well. (Again, she seems to be functioning quite well, certainly better than before!)

"So does TC know the treatment's not working?"

"Not the extent, but there's nothing he could do. God knows he'd try."

The episode ends with her going back to do even more dangerous medicine on the ground in Syria. Will we ever see her again? I'd bet no, but I didn't think we'd see her in this episode.

My problems with this episode:

-The MS is just the means to a stupid end. It has no point (there's enough stupid drama and conflict in this love the fact that she's technically still married to someone else!) but if MS is going to be used, at least use it responsibly! Medical dramas, especially, have something of a responsibility when portraying real life diseases. Some of them take this responsibility more seriously than others. MS has come up at least once on all of the medical dramas and while it rarely leaves me fully satisfied, it usually doesn't piss me off as much as this one does. And a non-medical show (The West Wing) is still the gold standard, as far as I'm concerned, for an accurate and responsible portrayal of MS.

-It's been maybe a few weeks! So how does she know the treatment isn't working? She seems to be doing significantly better physically than she was pre-treatment, so she's probably not having an exacerbation. I've been told that it can take months for MS drugs to really take effect. I've stopped MS drugs after a few months because they clearly weren't working but this clearly has not been even that long.

-I've taken flak for calling into question whether someone with MS should be president in relation to The West Wing (given the current political reality, I SO TAKE THAT BACK) but I'm REALLY calling into question whether someone with the specific challenges this fictional MS patient is having doing the kind of medicine she is doing. She's in the operating room on the front line in Syria and she can't really feel or control her fingers. She is putting other lives at risk in a stupid way. There are ways for her to contribute within the realm of medicine despite the MS.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

This Month: August 2017

Sigh. I neglected this blog all month long. I still have all kinds of plans for this space and I've begun slowly building a new home for this content, but the MS Muse keeps getting put on the back burner. I'll try to do better this month. I have four drafts of posts that are partially done, so I just need to commit to one and see it through!

This month:

  • I passed a kidney stone! It was one of the smaller ones, but on Day 59, at least one of these buggers got evicted. Doctor stuff continues in relation to this issue.

  • I went through YET ANOTHER unexpected insurance nightmare in relation to my Lyrica. It resulted in me actually sobbing in the bathroom at Walgreens, so that was special. Usually, when insurance won't cover the drug for whatever reason, I buy a few days worth out of pocket until the mess is sorted. I generally can't really afford it but I truly cannot make it without these drugs so I find a way to buy at least a few pills. (I probably could make it without the drugs, just in a lot of pain, but the WITHDRAWAL from this drug is the worst experience I've EVER encountered, and it's one I cannot do again. I would have to be hospitalized.) But this time, they refused to let me buy any out of pocket, period. The pharmacist explained why, something about it being a controlled substance and it would mean the insurance would never cover it after I'd bought some out of pocket or some such nonsense. I don't know if the rules have changed since last time or what. I had just barely started withdrawal but I have a guy on my MS team who fights hard on my behalf and he got it worked out just in the nick of time. So I'm back on it and the effects of the short-term withdrawal are behind me.

  • I played a symphony concert with a major fireworks mishap. There were some minor injuries in the violin section but it could have been a massive disaster. It was quite scary.

The view from here

rehearsing on a pontoon in the middle of a lake!

that's me floating! perfect day.

I'm very disturbed that there was a legitimate need to put this up in the exam room at my Neuro's office.

I find it hilarious that they put little star stickers on my bag o' Tysabri.
But I'll take a gold star whenever I can get it! 

I'm friends with some tree-huggers. ;-)

Here is my August One Second Every Day compilation, though I missed a few days:

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

This Month: July 2017, part 2

I picked up an awful cold and have been feeling miserable for the last ten days or so. And I've still got the kidney stones! Those other posts are still coming, I promise, but on a whim I started a new series earlier tonight: MS on TV.

The view from here:

road trip cloud vibes

the traditional road trip stop at this one Qdoba

this temperature did NOT make me happier, I assure you. it maxed out at 106.

look at this dog I call Mr. SimonPants casually leaning on his "elbow" against me in a super chill way.

a Nebraska sunset

my swimming buddies

do you like my sweet new shirt celebrating the Biebs?
(I did not buy this shirt.)

her reaction to seeing my shirt

getting my first tat

this guy is a miracle worker who saved my butt from computer doom

Mario Kart with grandma

(I'm just a little excited about this.)

look at this cute family

this is how I roadtrip: podcasts and origami

new card design

under the sea!

A new thing I started doing this month:
I'm using the app 1 Second Every Day. Here is my July, minus the first 8 days:

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MS on Television: The Night Shift

This is a new series for the blog. I watch a lot of television, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I'm happy to be living in this golden era of TV. Watching shows is actually a solid part of my health and wellness plan. Seriously! Distraction is a useful tool that I've had recommended to me by several different doctors. When my pain is really bad, it doesn't always fully work, but it can often help. I read as well, but I can't always focus my mind or my eyes the way I need to, but I can handle television.

MS comes up not as infrequently as you might expect, and quite often, there is something wrong with the way the disease is discussed. Often, this means bad or false information. I don't expect your minor storyline to be a long-form presentation on the disease in great detail, but if you're going to bring it up, at least have it be believable! And if you use your platform to show the disease in a true-to-life light, I will love you for it forever. Please watch The West Wing for some ideas on how to do it (mostly) right.

This series will highlight every time (or most times, anyway) that MS comes up on a tv show I watch. If you have any ideas for a fun MS-themed rating system I can use, let me know. Like a scale of five neurons? Or two myelin sheaths up or down? I know I have clever friends and readers - help a girl out.

First up, one of my all-time favorite genres: medical shows. I will watch literally any medical drama, even the bad ones. Most of them, I will love. NBC's The Night Shift is one that I love. It is what it is, which is a formulaic medical show, but it has heart and some great characters.

In Season 4 Episode 5, we see an army medic secretly shooting up with drugs and then we see her having some symptoms like tremors in an intense operating room situation. They are in Iraq or somewhere like that. One of the show's main characters, a doctor named TC later says to her: "Shooting up earlier, patchy numbness, weakness, and tremors How long have you had MS?"

She responds: "A while. I've been controlling it with steroids."

He says, "I can get you the best treatment." She insists that she just wants to keep doing her work, work that matters, says that she's no good to anyone laying in a hospital bed.

Later, she agrees to get treatment but then says, "The minute my treatment is done, I'm coming right back here."

This doesn't deserve a failing grade, but here are my issues with this storyline:

  • Is shooting up steroids a thing? I mean, high dose relapse steroids only come in oral and intravenous doses over a period of days, as far as I know. (Okay, I just looked it up, and it is a thing, but I don't think it's a thing typically or ever used for MS, probably because you won't be getting a high enough dose to make a difference.)
  • Also, a medical professional should know that not many MS treatments involve laying in a hospital bed. Some do, but not the majority, certainly not as a first course of action.
  • Treatment for MS isn't a thing that is one-and-done. Like, see ya! I'm going to go get rid of this disease and BRB! We wish.
  • The other symptoms make sense, but how TC adds shooting up to the list of things that made it obvious she had MS amused me.
I pride myself on diagnosing the characters on medical shows (you see a handful of the same weird/rare disease cases on every single medical show) but I did not think MS with this character, so I was surprised at TC's instant and easy diagnosis. I think the differential diagnosis would have involved a lot of other potential conditions and MS wasn't necessarily super obvious. (Other than the fact that she was a woman of a younger age, I guess. That would make MS rise to the top.)

Let me know if you see MS mentioned on a tv show and I'll add it to the series! And 

with me.
I can get you the best treatment.
[Sighs] I just want to do my work.
That's all that matters.
I-I'm here now.
I'm no good to anyone in a hospital bed.
You were no 

Read more:

Monday, July 17, 2017

This Month: July 2017, part 1

Oh look, here we are again and I never did a part two for June. The long and short of it is that things remained relatively not good. But then I had a new nephew enter the world and that helped cheer me up. And then I got to meet him for a few days. And that was wonderful. But the trip wore me out and now it's back to the daily grind.

Healthwise, I'm still stuck in kidney stone limbo. Still feeling periods of significant discomfort. Still peeing into a strainer. If you're counting, this is Day 42. And I had that very special test at the Urologist's office. It was pretty much the worst and I will tell you all about it soon, I promise. The result was an official diagnosis that basically means I'm bad at peeing. Which I already knew. Thanks, MS!

The view from here:

baby's first facetiming with auntie

sent a gift to my niece upon birth of her cuz

post storm pretty

my friend is kinda okay at gardening ;-)
okay, scratch that, REALLY good. it's so joyful to see her gardens.
minus the mosquitos, of course.

(I found all the check-in ladies to be judgy and not very friendly or helpful.)

hey veins

post Tysabri treat at a favorite sandwich place from college days

this doggie liked our horn jams

I have been waiting my whole life to have a baby boy to buy bowties for!

poetry in the waiting room before the most terrifying appointment of my life.

look what I found!

my friend Heather bought me a TON of disposable pee filters.
using these in public restrooms is the worst but it's so nice to be able to throw it out, unlike the plastic ones!
more on this unique and fabulous gift later.

I'm that person taking cloud pictures nonstop all flight, every flight.

life dream fulfilled! can't wait to see him in it in a few months.

lots of baby + pup sleeping shots

how cute is this nursery? my sis painted the mural.

pup always checking on the bambino. so cute.

my pretty mom is the world's greatest grandmother.

an origami bowtie for the lil man

she thought my book would be a comfy place to rest her head

had an afternoon free when mama + baby were at doctor, so saw another monument: MLK Memorial

Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.

IT FINALLY HAPPENED! she rested her head on one foot. next time, it better be both feet.

I know, I look good with a baby in my arms.

lots of hand positions in the course of 30 minutes
back home where there are no baby boys but there is bountiful basil
new favorite thing in the world: long-distance book club with my niece.
this book had an MS component and I plan to write about it soon.

I literally took 1,000 pictures when I was in DC to meet my nephew but I tried to hold back here. :-) 

I hinted at three different posts that will be coming your way. Just stating it here again as a way to try to force myself to actually write them! Plus there's still the last two posts in the Symptoms Series.

I told my niece that I was going to be writing one of them and she said, "What? You do stuff other than post pictures on your blog?" The chagrin I felt will hopefully propel me to write more.