Gideon's Crossing
The Way

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The Way

Previously on Gideon's Crossing: We establish that this is a teaching hospital. Ben says that the new technology can be wonderful, but sometimes doctors hide behind it. We establish that Max is the head of the hospital, and Ben makes a crack about the workings of said hospital. Ben lectures to a group of interns, and tells them that they have graduated medical school, and now it is time to learn how to do their jobs. The chief resident, Boies, is afraid of incompetence. Ollie and Sid are roommates. Ollie flirts with married-since-high-school Wyatt, a.k.a. Hapless Intern, a.k.a. Carter. Ben offers up the Zen koan, "A doctor is always in control, except when he's not." Hey, what about the female doctors?

Ben banters with a woman named Becky. Get used to the bantering -- it happens a lot. Apparently, Becky called him to get a prescription, "something for the pain," and Ben wants to discuss her pain more. Becky just wants to get the prescription and get out. Ben says he never said she was a complainer, and that he's a good listener. Becky says she's not one of those people who "gazes through the drizzle on [her] kitchen window with her flavored coffee, musing at the irony of it all." That was a pretty good line. Becky says she has a life, and Ben reveals that she is facing a "reoccurrence of breast cancer." Becky is looking awfully familiar to me, so I look her up in the IMDb, and it turns out she played Carrie Brady back when I was in college and used to watch Days Of Our Lives. And she was also Laura Kingman on 90210 -- you know, the one who was crazy, and nearly killed herself in the theater, back when Brenda was becoming an actress? Yeah, that girl. Anyway, Ben reveals that Becky is refusing treatment, and Becky reveals that she lost a breast at twenty-six. It's the first scene of the show -- there's a lot of revealing. It's less heavy-handed than I'm describing it here. Ben writes out the prescription and asks where Becky teaches. She says it's a "little school in East Cambridge -- three- and four-year-olds." Ben gives her a prescription for morphine, and starts to explain the dosage and side effects, but Becky says that she knows about "all the side effects from [her] Tao healer." Ben casts aspersions on the "Tao healer," but Becky is walking out of the office. Ben follows her to argue that "good chemotherapy" can "keep this cancer at bay." Becky observes that "good chemotherapy" is like "benign neglect or love handles" -- that is, an oxymoron. I knew that English degree would come in handy some day. Becky refuses the treatment, saying that she already tried it once. Ben says there have been new drugs developed "in the four years since [her] cancer first appeared." Becky says, "I didn't refuse treatment. I refused treatment from you." Ben looks taken aback. Becky continues, "The Tao has powers beyond what Western medicine has ever imagined." Isn't that a line from Star Wars? Becky says that she thinks the Tao will heal her, and walks off. Credits. Yes, all that happened before the credits. I know.

Ben is lecturing. He informs the students that in the past ten years, a revolution has taken place in medicine, not just in technology, but in the relationship between patient and doctor. He calls on Cherry, who says that ten years ago, patients used to listen to their doctors and now the doctors work for the patients. The two banter about the doctor's role, and Cherry concludes that now, "the patient decides." Ben counters that this is the same patient "whose lifetime of bad decisions," like drinking or smoking, has brought him to this place. Cherry gulps and says, "You don't judge." Ben goes on to ask if, when a patient arrives with some "third-hand lunacy foraged from an Internet chat room," the doctor should let twenty years of education and experience get in the way. Cherry, getting less sure of his footing with each answer, replies, "Absolutely not." Ben keeps belaboring the point, and Cherry says that Ben's not going to get him to disagree. Ben asks, "Why should the patient decide?" Wyatt pipes up, "It's his life." Ben says that if the patient wanted to "treat mental illness with a .44 Magnum," the doctor would say no. But if the patient wants to treat cancer with herbs and a Tao healer? Wyatt continues to disagree. Ben says that when his father was a doctor, he would command his patients, "You do as I say." Wyatt thinks that is "an abuse of the relationship." Ben think it's what a friend does, "oversteps his bounds." Have I mentioned the natural light flooding the lecture hall? I didn't think there was this much natural light in Boston, ever.

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Gideon's Crossing

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