Friday, April 03, 2009

Fifteen Years of ER (and my life)

I had a 13" color television, a queen-sized bed and my own room in a Washington, DC townhouse on Capitol Hill that I shared with two hill staffers. We had a one year-old dog, jobs that provided health insurance, covered rent and groceries and bought us a few beers a week.

We were 24.

For some odd reason, I sat on the floor alone in my room that night in September to watch the pilot of this new hospital drama I had heard about.

It was early September a few years earlier when I discovered the fever and odd swelling on the right side of my face and neck was mumps.

"Mumps?! Who gets mumps?"

The infirmary wanted to quarantine me. I insisted that I lived off campus and agreed to refrain from kissing young, virile boys until I was no longer contagious, so they let me recuperate at home (where I secretly made a list of boys who deserved to be kissed by a mump-afflicted girl).

When I was a kid my mom was an ER nurse. This meant that she performed our throat cultures herself at home using what felt like a wooden spoon with a nerf basketball on the end. It also meant that when we needed a booster vaccination she might bring us by the ER for a quick stab on our way to the mall or the grocery store or my grandma's--or sometimes not.

My vaccination records from my elementary school days are a bit sketchy.

That's what we figured when, as a 20 year-old, I developed what looked in the mirror like a mild case of elephantiasis.

(As a complete aside, this post was going in an entirely different direction when I started it and I'm not sure if I'm going to be able bring it all around again. Trust me. My original concept was brilliant.)

So despite my mom's home diagnoses and drive-by vaccinations, she had some experience in an ER. (Like on those Christmas Days we sat and stared at the presents under the tree waiting for her to get off of her 7-3 p.m. shift. Torture to a seven year-old I tell you.) And THAT's why I called her the morning after the ER pilot to see what she thought.

"The medicine is a bit overly dramatic, but the show comes closest to any I've seen in capturing the drastic swings in activity in an ER. You can be sitting there one minute reorganizing the ace bandages and the next minute up to your elbows in drunks and motorcycle accident victims."

Yeah, I can eat through any conversation.

I liked the show too. I watched it regularly for the first seven seasons or so, took a little break and then thank the heavens for the miracle of TiVO was able to follow it every week again for the past five years.

Today, I don't have a room of my own. I do however have a 52" TV, a queen-sized bed and own a house in the suburbs with my husband. We share it with three wild boys and an almost one year-old dog. We have jobs that provide health insurance, cover the mortgage and groceries and buy us a few beers a week--or so it feels in this economy.

I'm 39.

Tonight, I sat in the family room with my two youngest sons constantly asking them to keep it down and rewinding the DVR trying to watch the series finale of ER.

The change in Noah Wyle is what struck me the most maybe because we're almost the same age. The 15 years since the pilot have created for him more depth in a way that makes his face more interesting to me now than when he was playing that young intern.

Those same 15 years have given my life depth that I never could have imagined sitting on the floor alone in my room that night in September.

5 Deserve Mamma's Love:

Deb on the Rocks said...

It's true, pop culture helps us tell our own time, and for many of us those 15 years span our adult lives. Airing on Thursday night, it also marked a place in my week, even though I wasn't religious about watching it. It was something big.

flutter said...

this concept of this post was brilliant, too.

imsilentnomore said...

I'm actually getting ready to watch the final episode. But last night as I watched the retrospective they did I was thinking along the same lines as you. When the show started I was 18, about to turn 19 and engaged to be married.

Now I am 34 with three kids and like the show have a lived through many trials and many successes.

Here is hoping there is another show that will be a good as ER.

Becky said...

Nice post.

Becs said...

I don't know how I found your blog, but I was moved by the finale too. When a show has been on that long, it becomes a cornerstone of one's week. And I was never one to watch the show. My mom, a nurse, however loved it.

I remember when it started... I was starting high school! And now I'm married and with my own 2 children, watching the finale in a hospital with my child, surrounded by my own beeping and medical terminology.

I really like your post :)