I know by now I’ve mentioned that one of the first things Emily and I bonded over was our mutual love of Grey’s Anatomy. It was very much a focal point of our friendship and provided us with an abundance of memes, quotes, and memories to share. By the time 2020 rolled around, we frequently hung out on Thursday nights so we could watch the show together, and once we moved in together we relished our time together after the kids went to bed when we could curl up with our favorite snacks and watch the show together. In fact, this show was such a huge part of our story that we actually debated having a Grey’s-themed wedding or, at the very least, a Grey’s-themed joint bachelorette party.
My love for this show is a bit odd, because I’m not usually one for anything that includes a lot of blood, guts, and needles. Of course, if you knew Emily at all, then you knew her love of Grey’s Anatomy was about so much more than the characters or the drama — it was the medical aspects of the show that really appealed to her.
More Than Just Grey’s Anatomy
For reasons I’ll never fully understand, Emily lived for any television show with a medical component. In the time I knew her, she made me watch Private Practice, 9-1-1, and another fictitious medical show I can’t remember. I know she watched other shows too, like Chicago Med, but somehow we hadn’t gotten around to any others just yet.
She absolutely loved watching these shows. Yet, at the same time, they always pissed her off because of her extensive medical knowledge. So, for me, watching her watch the shows was entertainment in itself.
She’d sit and speculate what was wrong with a patient or make guesses about what would happen during surgery. She’d get mad anytime the doctors would casually call up UNOS because “that’s not how getting an organ works,” and she’d constantly correct how certain procedures or tests were done. It was hilarious.
Of course, my favorites were the episodes that also involved a psych component, because then I also got to see social worker Emily come out and yell at the television set even more. She hated pretty much every single social worker, therapist, or psychiatrist any of these shows ever cast, and she’d get mad at how ridiculous some portrayals of diagnoses appeared (example: Dr. Bailey’s OCD).
No matter how inaccurate the shows were, though, she continued to watch them. And I loved seeing this side of Emily come out.
Don’t Forget The Real-Life Medical Shows
Although I would have been content with our mediocre fictional medical dramas, Emily’s love of medicine + TV didn’t stop there. She also loved many real-life medical shows, and she made me watch them all when we had access to Discovery+.
My personal favorite was Sex Sent Me To The ER because no one died or had a serious medical condition, they were usually just stupid and needed medical attention to fix their stupidity. Also, they often had people reenact what happened in an overly dramatized way, which made me laugh to no end.
We watched several other shows, too. Some memorable ones include Untold Stories of the ER, Mystery ER, Mystery Diagnosis, Life or Death, and Surgery Saved My Life. Many of the shows had questions throughout, and Emily always knew the answers. She also frequently guessed the diagnosis before the doctors even figured it out fully, which impressed me. But, sometimes I had to just not watch for a bit, because I don’t do well with blood and other gross stuff.
Of course, Emily’s favorite show was without a doubt Dr. G Medical Examiner. As the name implies, a medical examiner named Dr. G would investigate unexplainable deaths and find answers for the families. Sometimes Dr. G would discover something rare, whereas other times she’d merely find that the cause of death given wasn’t the full story. Each episode included plot twists, and Emily lived for the thrill of the final answer.
She’s Her Own Medical Mystery Now
Looking back, I wish I’d had enough grasp over my thoughts during those last few hours with Emily to joke about how she was becoming her own version of her favorite medical mystery television shows. Emily’s brother did joke about it in his speech at the funeral, which I appreciated. Because I know that, deep down, she would have laughed and screamed over the irony all at once.
But, alas, here we are over four months after her death, and we still have no idea what caused Emily to die. The autopsy results still haven’t come to fruition (at least to my knowledge), and not a single person I’ve talked to that has any sort of background in medicine has any idea for me.
I know that Emily would want to know what happened, and the not knowing often keeps me up at night. I can’t help but wonder if taking her to the ER sooner would have helped. I keep thinking about those last 48 hours and ask myself each day if I made a misstep along the way or if something her treatment team did could have gone awry. I’ve even wondered if the pieces of my orange chicken from the cafeteria that she stole from me to supplement her bland dinner could have been the culprit.
Unfortunately for now, her death is just as much a mystery as any of the aliments people dealt with on her favorite television shows, and it’s sad, frustrating, and excruciatingly painful to live in the unknown.
Because Emily loved medical mysteries, I suspect the answers we eventually get will either be something incredibly rare and fascinating or so unclear that she’ll become a medical mystery for the ages. But, because I also love her, I am just glad to know she’s not in pain anymore and have to assume that the damage that occurred in those last few hours was so extensive that God didn’t see any other way to take care of her but to call her home.