By Brianne Moore
When we last saw our Seattle Grace-Mercy West crew, Teddy was hard at work trying to repair the heart of a woman who literally ended up with a screw loose after a fairly routine ortho surgery at Callie’s hands. Said screw turned the poor woman’s heart into a coronary colander, which means Teddy’s stuck in surgery while her husband, Henry, was being operated on by Christina (who was being kept in the dark regarding who her patient is). Henry couldn’t be saved, and once she found out who she just operated on and lost, Christina melted down (as much as Christina ever does). Meredith and Alex headed out into the dark and stormy night to collect a premature infant from another hospital, but on the way back their ambulance broke down and was then slammed into by an oncoming van.
So we pick up this week in the immediate aftermath of the accident. Meredith, Alex and the fragile newborn are, miraculously, nearly unscathed, but the family in the van isn’t so lucky. The only member who escaped in one piece is the eldest daughter, who’s about to celebrate her 18th birthday. Meredith and Alex put their considerable trauma experience to work (and really, after working that ferryboat crash a few seasons ago, a car accident with a handful of victims should be next to nothing, right)?
The accident does give the docs back at the hospital something to do, at least. Derek and Mark agree to call in Mark’s latest girlfriend to help with a fancy eye surgery to remove a horrifically huge piece of glass from one of the accident victim’s eyes, while Meredith desperately tries to save the kids’ parents. She’s unsuccessful with the mom, and dad’s on life support and crashing pretty much every fifteen minutes. Meredith also has to sit down with the hysterical birthday girl to ask, as gently as she can, whether her parents ever discussed what should happen if they’re on life support. Of course they never talked about that, because how many parents talk about that sort of thing with their teens? I think there’s an important lesson here: it’s never too early to make a living will or some official document that makes your wishes in situations like these very, very clear.
Crazy Condition: While Meredith and Baily are operating on the youngest crash victim, Michael, the kid starts spiking a fever and his heart goes crazy. The handsome anesthesiologist is the one who actually figures out what’s wrong: Michael has a condition called Malignant Hyperthermia, a rare hereditary condition that can be triggered by some of the drugs used for general anesthesia. They administer treatment just in time, and Michael’s going to be ok. Mere makes sure to scurry off to tell the surgeons working on the rest of the family to watch their temperatures.
Teddy is still working on her patient and still blissfully unaware that her husband is dead, because Owen refuses to tell her and risk screwing up the surgery. Reasonable enough. Not so reasonable, though, is when he forces Christina to assist Teddy on the surgery because Teddy insists only Christina’s good enough to help her out. I understand he’s desperate to keep Henry’s death a secret, but this seems a step too far. It’s cruel, but after some persuading, Christina slips into surgical robot mode and enters the OR once again. She even manages to let loose a bit (once again, at Teddy’s insistence), deflects questions about Henry, and crosses another cool surgery off her bucket list. When it’s all over, though, she asks Kepner to finish up, pulls Teddy aside, and breaks the bad news to her. Teddy takes it surprisingly well, but you know there’s going to be a lot of fallout from this, for both Owen and Christina.
And there’s more sad news for the accident family: the very first adult decision the daughter gets to make is to take her father off life support, making this officially the worst birthday anyone could ever have. Meredith stays with her as the father slowly passes away.
If there was any theme this week, I’d say it was communication: when to communicate, and how much to tell. And hard decisions, too. The daughter made an incredibly difficult decision (especially for one so young), and Owen made a less difficult but still devastating decision when he chose to keep Henry’s death secret, even to the extent that he made Christina help with the surgery to make it seem like everything was OK. You know how I feel about that particular decision, but I’d love to have your thoughts, readers. Was Owen right to keep Henry’s death secret until after the surgery? Was he right to insist Christina help, even though it obviously distressed her? Share your thoughts in the comments below.