Wednesday, January 10, 2018

It seems trivial but it's not



Did anyone see the premiere of Ryan Murphy's new first responder drama, 9-1-1?  I had to watch it because I'm a diehard Six Feet Under (affiliate link) fan and love Peter Krause.) If you've never seen Six Feet Under and have Amazon Prime, it's free as part of the membership.  Watch it.)  As I watched the internet slam it up and down because it wasn't a "typical" Ryan Murphy show with insane situations that make you cringe and/or watch through your fingers, I had to shake my head.  I went straight into old lady mode...it's called character building.  Where you don't just glaze over something that has two lines and then jumps into the faceless demon literally drilling you with a strap-on.  (Yes, that happened...American Horror Story fans know the deal.  Last season was the first season I didn't watch because I'm done with the whole "how much can I shock you?" crap.  Boring.)

I actually admire that it gave you just enough of the taste of personal lives of the first responders to get across that those who run into danger deal with their own problems and demons.  I come from a family of first responders and health care workers on both sides.  Just like all of us, they are not perfect, and the way they deal with their problems or even egos that are a weird side effect of saving lives can be less than admirable.  This show, if given the opportunity, will shed light on that based on the previews for the season.

But here's why this show has me shaking my head, and it seems trivial, but it's not.  Connie Britton's character is a dispatch operator, but at home, she cares for her mother with Alzheimer's... "late stage."  Now if they'd just said Alzheimer's and left it at that, we'd have been fine, but they make a point of emphasizing late stage.  The problem is, her actions, abilities and cognitive function are moderate stage according to the Alzheimer's Association.  Why am I making a big deal of this?  Who cares what stage this is and what the exact symptoms are?  Because until you have watched someone you love more than anything deteriorate, the only thing you have to go on is what you see on TV or read on a website.  There is nothing that accurately depicts what actual "late stage" Alzheimers looks like because frankly, it's too ugly.  You want a true American horror story?  Real life late stage is it.  They have no problem showing us dead bodies on the news during breakfast or dinner (hence the reason I haven't watched it in almost 2 years).  They have no problem showing all kinds of violence and abuse that desensitizes us as a society, but God forbid they show the accurate depiction of this or any disease.  It angers me because some poor person who sees this show and is dealing with their parent, spouse or grandparents going through the condition assumes some myths portrayed in the scenes with her mother.  They may expect that they can carry on a coherent but sometimes confused conversation with them or read a book (that still has the Mr screaming).  That they'll still be able to eat somewhat normally and of course any caregiver that may come in when they're not there won't take care of them and will ignore them.

Can we please stop perpetuating stereotypes on all levels where this is concerned?  Can we get "real" about diseases of any kind if you're going to bother portraying them on your show at all?  It's admirable that they will eventually represent the hardships on the caregiver family member(s).  But showing the hired caregiver not doing their job the second they walk in the door is a slap in the face to all of the good home health care workers that give family caregivers a break.  By perpetuating this image, you are scaring and guilting people into feeling like they honestly have no other options than to take on a superhero mentality to do it all because no one else can be trusted.  That is unsustainable.  Caregivers need breaks...period.  They need to know that not everyone sent from whatever program they finally broke down and asked for help from isn't going to send them a worker that ignores the patients needs when you're not there.  I firmly believe this is the exception rather than the rule, but because it gets more clicks, you only hear about the bad cases.  Our hired caregiver is very trusted and takes excellent care of my grandma a few days a week.  She doesn't ignore her, her needs or even Grandma's husband who can be aggravating on a good day lately.

If someone you know is going through a disease, please initially go to forums and support groups online.  These people will give you a true picture of what to expect.  Don't get your idea of expectations from a TV show.  I firmly believe going in armed with a true representation of the facts will help you be better prepared for the harsh realities that may face you.  Obviously, every person is different, and one person's late stage may not look like someone else's but knowing what you could face will arm you emotionally and mentally for the road ahead.  I don't mean look up every horror story out there, there are plenty of those.  Do it once for a whole day, take notes and then stay off the internet unless you're looking for clinical trials, music, and holistic therapies or nutritional support- all of which can make a huge difference in the patient maintaining as much cognitive function for as long as possible.

9-1-1 airs tonight (Wednesdays) 9pm Eastern/8pm Central

Did you watch 9-1-1?  What did you think?  


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10 comments:

  1. It bothers me the way they portray computers and tech jobs in shows, but that's trivial. It's NOT trivial when they make something like late stage alzheimer's look like someone who's just kind of out of it at times - and yes the way they showed her reading the book so coherently did bug me most of all, as well as how she was like "drive safely and have a good day" when her daughter left. If only that were possible with someone in late stage it wouldn't be half as devastating as it is. It's frustrating because it just does such a disservice to all of the people affected by this as well as the caregivers -both family and professional.

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    1. Oh, you mean police departments don't have projection computer screens that float in mid-air ala Hawaii 5-0?! :D

      Oh yeah, I forgot about that part. In late stage they are lucky to even speak much less put together a sentence like that. If only.

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  2. I didn't watch it last week, but I may set the dvr to record it tonight. I agree that character development is important to a show, without it I don't care enough about the characters to continue watching.

    I hate shows that portry professionals in a bad light. The vast majority of health care workers, clergy, teachers, daycare providers, police officers, doctors, etc. are good people and good at their jobs. Based on what the media portrays though, they are all degenerates. Pisses me off.

    Sorry, you hit on one of my personal soapboxes.

    I agree about the portrayl of disease on tv too. Terminal illness is not pretty, the way it's shown on tv shouldn't be either.

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    1. Exactly! Why would I care what happens to a character if I don't build up enough time caring about their background and why they're relatable?

      Speaking of teachers, did you watch Undercover High on A&E last night?!?! OMG!!!! 7 adults go back to high school undercover to see what it's really like now with social media and stuff. It should be mandatory viewing for every teacher, parent or person who has a kid in their life they care about. So scary and these poor teachers have no real power like they did when we were kids. Some of them actually looked scared to teach.

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  3. Great post - and it's not trivial. Seriously don't like the way TV shows dumb things down to make the story flow. And I thought we were the only ones who chuckled at that technology on Hawaii 5-O!!! Ha.

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    1. They totally dumb things down when it comes to "real" issues like disease but boy Criminal Minds or other "gritty" dramas have no problems showing you crap that gives you nightmares!

      Glad we're not the only ones that think that's ridiculous. I love Hawaii and its people but I can tell you from having seen a few instances there, they would be the last place that could afford such technology if it even truly existed.

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  4. Nanny cam. Any caregiver of anyone in your life. Friend of mine could watch live feed of every room in her house when she was gone. And it was all good. And she knew it was good and could relax.

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    1. Absolutely! I asked the head of the health care place we go through when initially researching if they had a problem with nanny cams being installed because family was concerned about horror stories. She said that was completely fine and they had no problem with it and any agency who does shouldn't even be considered.

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  5. I remember watching my sweet uncle decline over a very long period of time, but when the "end stage" came, you could see the incredible daily rate of decline and it was so hard. My aunt never recovered from it and was a shell of herself. My cousin is the one who stepped in to be the caregiver because my aunt just couldn't handle that kind of pain. My uncle was the only man in my life who should me what it really meant to be a 'family man' and he was so kind to me from a very young age. I took his death hard, probably more so since he was my first personal experience with Alzheimer's, but sadly, not my last. The family was very private about it and put so much on their shoulders, when having the added help would have been so beneficial to all of them. I'm able to think back on him now with so much joy, but it took a long time because those last memories were the freshest.

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    1. It truly is a daily rate. That was good of your cousin to do that for your aunt but that had to take a horrible toll on them as well. I'm so glad he was so good to you. They are not the only ones to shoulder the burden so completely. Family thinks they need to do it to show their love but that isn't how it should work. The patient would be horrified if they knew what true caregiving entailed and in many cases it breaks the caregiver or tears apart the family. Outside help is the best chance for giving your best self to your loved one.

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