I watch Greys Anatomy every Thursday night with four friends and a glass of wine. We have done this for several seasons now, and I look forward to it every week. But lately … lately I find that watching Greys Anatomy feels similar to watching a train wreck. It hurts my soul but I can’t look away. Every single week the show seems to focus on cancer diagnosis’ or cancer deaths. It’s like a drum pounding in my head over and over. I walk into the evening excited for the chatter and wine, and within about five minutes of the show starting all I can think is, “Again?”
And so for the last few days I have asked myself this question … are these weekly dates with my girls feeding my soul, or are they robbing me of any semblance of peace?
The most recent episode involved a pregnant woman who was dying of … wait for it …. cancer. (Surprise!) She refused treatment in order to save her baby. How noble of her. Blah blah blah. Before she went into surgery she secretly told the doctors she wanted to sign her own DNR. She did not want them to take extraordinary measures to keep her alive if something went wrong. Well, something went wrong as it usually does, and I’m sure you can figure out what happened in the end.
As I was watching that episode it made me think about this … I signed the DNR. I signed that DNR. I signed it while I sat right beside Ben in the hospital. A doctor finally had the kahunas to broach the subject with Ben, and Ben promptly shut him down hard and fast. “Talk to Wendy about that” he said. “She’ll know.” I remember that he used tone with the doctor. Angry tone.
Well apparently, in fact, I did know. Or at least I thought I knew at the time, because I signed it. Ben apparently did not know so I made that decision for him. That shitty, crappy, assholish decision that I never imagined I would actually have to make in my lifetime. I signed that DNR, tucked it into the green plastic envelope they give you with a magnet on the back and slapped it onto our fridge for all to see. (That’s what you do with it, you know. I’m told that EHS attendants always look on the fridge for that green envelope. A quarter century in emergency services and I never knew that DNRs are kept in green envelopes on the fridge. Now you know too.) I signed that DNR. I stuck it on the fridge and it sat there right through the Christmas holidays while everyone from both families were here “celebrating” the season, and I think I was the only one who knew it was there. (It’s possible I could be wrong about that … there is a lot I don’t remember so maybe my sisters did know.) But what I do indeed remember is that I signed the fucking DNR. It was the right thing to do, and it kind of haunts me.
Not only did I sign the DNR and stick it on the fridge, but I also chose a funeral hall and signed some forms about body removal at a time when Ben was still chatting people up and taking visitors. Everyone around him was planning for Ben’s death except Ben. He wanted to live. He trusted me with his life and death decisions.
I signed the DNR. It somehow seems so businesslike … so wrong, so completely casual in hindsight. “Sign this receipt, please.” “Sign for the package, please.” “Sign your husband’s DNR, please.” Funny how it didn’t seem so wrong at the time. At the time it seemed important to plan, to prepare, and to save Ben from the agony of possibly being brought back to life only to surely die soon after. Now it just seems surreal, and even though it was the right thing to do, I don’t really know how I managed to do it.
I had a landscaping complication this week with the neighbour, and when I brought her flowers the next day to try to calm her ruffled feathers she went on and on and on about how she had had a bad day. That was her reason for her bad behaviour … everything had gone wrong for her. And I smiled and handed her the flowers and mumbled, “Oh, I’m sorry your day was so tough” while I thought about how I wanted to tell her that I wish that I could have her bad days. I also wanted to beat her a little bit but I refrained.
(On a side note, I tend to have regular Ally McBeal moments where I envision doing exactly what I want to do when people say things that I consider absolute wastes of time and breath. It makes me feel better to fantasize. I try to put smile therapy into practice.)
I spent some time with Ben these last few days and I was surprised to find that someone else had been visiting him too. They left flowers. I love that.
The bottom bunch is from someone else who must have loved him. Can’t say as I blame them. He was easy to love.
I asked the question earlier about whether these weekly Greys Anatomy dates are feeding my soul (the friendships) or sucking it dry (the storyline of the show). The truth is that I could probably do without the constant cancer reminders, but then again those reminders are everywhere, every day. I don’t need Greys Anatomy to remind me that Ben died.
On the plus side I also get at least an hour of chat before the show and I’m always guaranteed a laugh as we recount what we read on the local community Facebook page throughout the week. (Those of you who live in this area will understand what I mean.) Those hours are worth more to me. I couldn’t have gotten part way through this mess of Ben’s life and death without them.
Anyway, who am I kidding? I couldn’t stop watching the 37th season of Greys Anatomy even if I was kicked out of the club. (I don’t think they can kick me out. I’m the original founder.)