Tuesday, August 1, 2017

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: http://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/view_episode_scripts.php?tv-show=the-night-shift-2014&episode=s04e05

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