This guy. This guy right here from Season 2 of Grey’s Anatomy. THIS FREAKING GUY, DENNY, ruined me all together from the ages of 11-19, for seriously considering a career in medicine.
I know. I know.
I have undergone two (three if you count wisdom teeth, but I don’t) surgeries. The first was to remove a benign growth in my left shin. The second was for the cochlear implant. Neither of these two surgeries were truly scary in my eyes. I was not very nervous leading up to these operations, nor did I suffer greatly after either. One would think, having successfully fulfilled the “scariest” role (the patient) in these two operations, that I would not be scared of hospitals.
ONE WOULD THINK.
But oh no, I was not a fan of hospitals. All because of THIS right here:
This subplot with Denny and Katherine Heigel’s character Izzie (I know — who even remembered Katherine Heigel was on Grey’s?!) completely destroyed me. I have no idea why. It isn’t even really a medically involved subplot. Guy and girl fall in love. Guy tragically dies. Girl cries. Lots of movies/TV shows/books have some version of this plot, but for some reason, this one right here sent me into a panic about the flightiness of life. How sometimes things just happen, and even in a hospital, surrounded by able doctors, medicines, and equipment, things just don’t always work out.
This fear made me feel very averse to the medical profession. I did not want to experience Izzie’s desperation and sadness every time a patient died due to matters beyond my (or any other doctor’s control), so I mentally veto’d the medical profession.
Now listen up, Grey’s Anatomy writers, have I got a plot twist for you.
Over the course of four days this spring break, I find that I have undergone a change of heart.
As I spent my first year and a half of college grappling over a career choice, I consistently found myself stuck at a crossroads between law and medicine. I could never fully commit myself to law, but the concept of medicine brought to mind a picture of Denny and a big red flag. Yet, if I truly didn’t want to be a doctor, I would never have considered it. Plus, why did my own ACTUAL SURGERIES not scare me the way Denny did? Was I letting an overly emotional reaction undermine my mental ability to get over myself and help someone who needed me more than I needed to “protect” myself?
Okay, here’s that plot twist. I called up my longtime ear, nose, and throat doctor (E.N.T., otherwise known as otolaryngologist) who diagnosed me with my hearing impairment when I was 11 months old and who gave me my cochlear implant in 2010. I asked him if he would let me shadow him in the operating room over my spring break. I told him I was exploring an interest in medicine and would value such an opportunity. While that is the truth, I was also doing it to test myself. Could I handle surgery? Had I worked myself up so much over Denny that I could not handle the sight of a human being on the operating table?
I was amazed to find that I did not skip a beat in the operating room. Sure, I was nervous leading up to the operation. I was a little scared as a stepped into my scrubs and as I was escorted into the room.
But once the scalpels came out, I was all business. My doctor, perhaps the kindest and funniest one I know, let me sit next to him and look through his lenses (ear surgeries are very tiny surgeries and must be done with the aid of a magnifying lens). He patiently pointed out the anatomy of the ear and made the funniest analogies to explain what he was doing. I was shocked to find that when I was 20 inches away from an open human being, Denny was the furthest thing from my mind.
Instead, I felt a greater sense of purpose. What many of my peers had told me — that being a cochlear implant surgeon or E.N.T. would be a natural fit for me due to my own hearing loss — finally seemed a little bit clearer. My disability not only gives me a voice (to write this blog) but it could also give me a purpose in life. If I could help others similar to me in ways that my doctor had helped me, it would just feel right. I could understand my patients who struggle to hear and thus require an operation on a deeper level — I have felt their pain, and I have been in their shoes. I could relate to their feelings, needs, and experiences. If I were to become a doctor, this will be me and my patients:
This sense of purpose could make me a great doctor, my peers tell me. I am starting to believe them, but that being said, I am still not there yet. Even though I loved watching those surgeries (six, to be exact: a tympanoplasty, two stapedectomies (is there even a proper way to pluralize stapedectomy), a cochlear implant surgery (!!!), and one incredibly complicated surgery with no name), I still need to come around to the prospect of medical school and a surgery rotation (hello neurosurgery, trauma surgery, plastic surgery, orthopedic surgery — blood, blood everywhere). Despite that, I have a new understanding of what the medical profession means to me, and this new understanding offers me clarity that I didn’t even know I was lacking. I am forever so grateful to my doctor for giving me a third life changing experience (the first was my hearing impairment diagnosis, the second was my implant). He has implanted a new vision of medicine in me.
Now, the real plot twist about Denny is not that he dies. The real plot twist is that the actor who plays him is actually NOT Javier Bardem, but rather Jeffrey Dean Morgan. I mean, are you serious.