Grey's Anatomy recap: Sensitivity Training
Loss and lawsuits bring out everyone's soft side
In the spirit of Bailey’s training session, herewith the lessons in ”extra sensitivity” we learned from tonight’s Grey’s Anatomy:
1. If you’re going to inform your current lover about your wife sending you divorce papers, don’t do it by telling your lover’s sister, who’s also a fellow doctor, within earshot of your lover. While waiting for an ambulance to roll up with a patient.
Then again, Alex hasn’t always been known for his sensitivity. Nonetheless, Lexie was a bit flustered by the news that Izzie and Alex were officially splitsville, despite her repeated insistence that she’s totally fine with this whole friends-with-benefits situation (and despite the extensive coverage of Katherine Heigl’s departure). Alex insisted to Meredith that it was totally cool, and Lexie didn’t have feelings for him, and he didn’t have feelings for her, and nobody had any feelings ever.
But, of course, that grand kiss in the middle of the hospital upon signing his divorce papers said otherwise. Then again, who can trust a kiss that comes less than a second after a guy signs divorce papers?
2. Do not make fat jokes when a nearly-700-pound man arrives for treatment. Or, on second thought, do.
A very large fella named Bobby showed up complaining of stomach pains — and cracking jokes left and right at his own expense, even though Cristina and Jackson got kicked off for making their own quips. Example: ”She likes to make mountains out of molehills, and I’m already a mountain.” Grey’s did little to make us less grossed out when they gave us a tough-to-take shot of the real problem — he had developed a crazy-bad skin infection underneath his belly, in a place he couldn’t even see.
Worse, Bobby hadn’t walked in a year, but insisted on doing it when he needed to transfer onto a different gurney. This went well for about five seconds, during which he said to his wife, ”You know what this reminds me of? Our wedding.” Then he fell and broke his ankle. The doctors couldn’t figure out how to get him a CT, because of his size. ”What about the zoo?” random Mercy Wester Charles suggested. ”They’ve got to have a CT for, like, rhinos, right?” The sensitivity of this comment was debated, but soon we were distracted by something else: the news from his wife that she was pregnant. ”How?” Lexie gasped. She handed over her clipboard and dismissed herself from the case without another word from Bailey.
It turned out Bobby had a severe deep tissue infection that would require the doctors ”clear out the infected fat.” Thus this became the official Super High Risk Surgery of the Night. ”Almost too high to calculate.” ”Five times the risk of heart attack.” ”Slow healing, renal failure.” ”High risk of pulmonary embolism.” ”Post-op infection.” Derek, who was about to be deposed in a lawsuit accusing him of pulling the plug on a patient recklessly, was having none of it. ”I’m saying we send him to a bariatric center that’s prepared for a patient like this,” he snapped, ”instead of us spending our time and resources caring for someone who obviously does not care for himself.” But the ex-Chief turned him around, talking him into not seeing every patient as a prospective lawsuit. Yay, ex-Chief.
NEXT: Alex gets sassy
The patient sensitivity training, however, was just beginning in this case. First came the awkward moment during which Cristina used a burger and fry to illustrate Bobby and his wife in trying to figure out how they had sex. Of course, the wife happened by. And at first, it seemed like she was going to be nice about it and even offer to tell them all about it. But then: ”First, how about you tell me how you like to do it with your husband?” Okay, so jokes about their sex life involving cafeteria food as visual aids were off limits. Seemed fair.
Next, Bobby was done with joking and telling the doctors he didn’t want the surgery — in fact, he wanted to die. ”I just want to be gone before the kid has a chance to know who I am,” he said. Now all bets were off on when to joke and when not to. ”He’s been trying to make you guys laugh all day, but you’re too disgusted to even smile,” his wife told Alex. ”Or joke with him. Make him feel like a person.”
Alex took her advice — and also gave Bobby a large dose of his own advice. ”You bringing my forklift around?” Bobby joked. Alex lobbed it back this time: ”I thought we’d just open up the loading dock and roll you out.” Then he added, ”I got a good one. What did they call the guy who was so fat he couldn’t get out of the house? Dead. And selfish. Because you left a 700-pound mess for your wife to clean up.” He furthermore added his own spin on the situation: ”You can’t just walk out on her now. She deserves better. Chances are you’re going to die on that table; then you get what you want. But at least your wife will think you tried.” Well said, sir.
Bobby went through with it, and despite a perforated colon, he made it through.
3. There is such a thing as too sensitive to a patient’s feelings.
Like when she’s a hot, flirty girl with a knee injury from a bike accident. Like Callie, I, too, barely noticed the details of her injury, because I was too wrapped up in how cute she was — and the fact that she started right in on Callie by telling her that her friend bet her she’d have a sexy doctor: ”Now you show up, so I owe her 20 bucks.” I’d grown very protective of Arizona and Callie as a couple, so this brought up a lot of feelings for me. Uncomfortable ones. Made even worse by their hand-holding later.
4. Everyone’s capable of patient sensitivity. Even Cristina.
Having been dismissed from the obese-guy case, Cristina and Jackson helped Teddy on a consult for a woman complaining of nausea and dizziness. It turned out she was having a heart attack. When Teddy asked Cristina to look after the lady’s daughter while she went into surgery, Cristina balked. ”It’s patient sensitivity day,” Teddy reminded her. ”It’s not a day,” Cristina snarked. She reluctantly took the girl before muttering, ”Where’s Callie? She’s been whining for a kid.”
NEXT: Sandra Oh brings us to tears
But when the mom was rushed past into the OR, and the little girl started crying, Cristina — awww — chose the girl over being in surgery. And when the mom died, Cristina gave her one heck of a sensitive talk: ”If your mom dies, you’ll feel a lot of things. First you’ll feel like you could’ve done more to help her, but that’s not true. You did everything you could. It won’t feel that way, but remember me telling you this: You did everything you could. And it’ll hurt every time you think of her. But over time it will hurt less and less. And eventually you’ll remember her and it’ll only hurt a little.”
Cristina insisted to Jackson that it was simply ”me kicking patient sensitivity ass,” but we could tell it was more than that. Once she was in the comfort of Hunt’s arms, sobbing, she said it: ”I miss my dad.” Oh, Sandra Oh, you never fail to make me cry.
5. Do not make faces.
Hunt was none too pleased when Meredith grimaced at him upon overhearing Teddy thank him for putting in a good word for her to get the cardiothoracic job. (If you will recall from last week, he did the exact opposite.) The grimace, he surmised (correctly), meant Derek had told Meredith the truth. And he was worried she’d tell Cristina, too. So much so that he didn’t even want Meredith in his surgery on the obese guy — he told her she wasn’t needed. (Honestly, she was lucky — those were some particularly gruesome surgery shots.) Meredith has a problem I know all too well — her face, as Derek explained, gives her away every time. ”Control your face,” he told her, before also forbidding her to tell Cristina about Hunt’s non-recommendation.
6. Do not let dead patients’ husbands sit in on depositions about their case.
Derek got to answer such fun questions as, ”How long did it take you to decide to recommend that she should die?” while the woman’s husband of 32 years sat at the table. ”I loved her for half of my life and you decided to kill her in less than a minute?” he said, later adding, ”You’re a coward and a killer.” Still, it turned out there was no case. But Derek felt the urge to say more to the man afterwards, which his lawyer advised against: ”I know you want to do more, but it’s over.”
7. Do not underestimate the power of a grown-up relationship decision.
Okay, this has little to do with patient sensitivity and everything to do with Arizona and Callie and my worst fears about them. This was Grey’s at its most powerful, this scene that slipped so quickly from Callie explaining that a cute patient had written her phone number in permanent marker on her palm to that cute patient — in whom she didn’t even have real interest — detonating what had become one of the show’s great love stories. ”It’s this cute girl’s number, and I can’t get it off,” Callie explained. ”And I’m not going to use it. But I can’t stop wondering if maybe she wants a baby someday.” Just like that, they knew: They had to break up. The way so many horrible adult break-ups happen: You just know, and you’ve gone to a place where you can’t take it back. This one hurt.
And if we’ve already resolved their situation, it makes me wonder what emotional time-bombs will come in the finale.
What do you think, PopWatchers? What might the promised game-changing season finale have in store? Do Alex and Lexie really have a shot? Will Arizona and Callie reconcile?