Relationships are the theme of this season. Mainly, how everyone is dealing with the aftermath of the shooting that killed many members of the staff at the hospital & nearly killed two main characters, Dr. Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) & Dr. Derrick Shephard, (the “McDreamy” Patrick Dempsey). This season has really explored how people deal with loss, fear, self-doubt, a miscarriage, a break-up, — overall, how to survive in the aftermath of traumatic event.
The character that is having the most difficult time with all of this is Dr. Christina Yang (portrayed beautifully by Sandra Oh). So far, this season she has gotten married to Dr. Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd).... and has not been able to do much else. The once fiery, somewhat cocky cardio-thoracic resident has been subdued. Even though she saved Dr. Shephard’s life under horrible circumstances (she had a gun held to her head by the gunman, telling her to let him die and she was able to help convince the gunman into thinking he had, before resuscitating Shephard), she hates being called a “hero.” Her new husband doesn’t want to see that she is suffering a severe case of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), just like he had after he returned from the war. Shephard can’t see it, because he is indebted to her for saving his life. Her best friend Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) can see it, yet doesn’t exactly know how to “fix” her friend. She thinks time will heal the wounds. None of her friends at the hospital know how to help get Christina back to “Christina.”
Things came to a head tonight when Christina’s patient goes in to heart failure. He was already on the donor waiting list for new lungs, and now he may be in need of a new heart, as well. Christina was tentative with the patient at first — she doubts her every move, every call. She looks to other doctors and surgeons as to what to do. When asked, she has the right answers, but she is not confident in her decisions. When Meredith comes to help, she feels as if she is there to “babysit” her, but does eventually take Mere’s help and has her talk with the patient’s estranged daughter.
She finally breaks down and admits to Meredith that she is scared of everything. “I was scared when he coded, I’m scared now that he’s stable. I’m scared walking across the lobby. I’m scared all the time.” When Meredith offers to help, Christina informs her that she can’t help. She feels ruined and dead. She doesn’t understand how Meredith can be “OK” when she is so… not.
Luckily, she is able to perform her duties until the lungs for the transplant arrive. Her hard work pays off, and he receives the lung transplant, and his heart is fine. She was able to perform her duties as a doctor and a surgeon and saved another life. But, is that enough?
In my own life, I can relate to how Christina is feeling. Sometimes, when a tragedy strikes, others seem to deal with the consequences so calmly, while others just want to crawl under a sheet and stay in bed for days – throw in the towel and just be “done.” But for most of us, this is not an option. We have to carry on, like Christina is trying to do. She is doing the best she can, and luckily for her patient, she did her job well. But in the end, she finds her answer. She realizes that even though she CAN be a surgeon, she no longer WANTS to be. It is not fair, to her, to her patients, to the hospital. But she just can’t fight what she is feeling. She quits — gives in to the nothingness, which at some point in time, I’m sure most of us have wanted to be able to do, but not had the strength to. She finds herself just…“being.”
“And sometimes, even when we find the answer we’ve been looking for, we’re still left with a whole, hell of a lot of questions.”
Conni Ironmonger-Mann lives in Yorktown with her husband, Don, and daughter and can be found either watching TV from her sofa or writing her dissertation (guess which one is more fun?) You can read her blog at dailypress.com/dpop or follow her on Twitter at @Conniim.