For the last four years, I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the television show New Amsterdam. New Amsterdam is a fictional hospital in NYC but it is based on the very real hospital Bellvue also in NYC. The show’s stories are interesting and compelling. The scripts are well written and the cast of characters well defined.
In the first season and for the last four years the show centers around Dr. Max Goodwin. In the first episode, Max takes over as what I believe is now called The Chief Medical Officer in a hospital. In other words, Max was running the show. In the first three and half seasons, Max stays in this position until he marries Helen the head of the oncology department and they both move to London Helen’s original home. Max is back now trying to get the hospital back from the evil woman who the board elected to take his place. The culmination of that will take place tonight, Tuesday, May 10, 2022.
In his first season, Max is constantly asking the same question whenever a problem arises. That question is, “How can I help?” That attitude begins to take over the whole hospital as you begin to see the main characters more and more, some subtly some overtly begin to take on the characteristic of caring for each other and the patients of the hospital.
Now you would think patient care would always be the top priority of all medical facilities. Having worked in medicine for 30 years as a dialysis technician and a medical assistant. I have seen the level of care for patients being eroded by government rules and paperwork. Hands-on care by nurses is now relegated more and more to technicians who sometimes do not have the experience or the education to take on that care. Mandatory 12 and 13-hour days made people exhausted by the end of their shift, and basically useless on their days off in between shifts because of sheer exhaustion. Let me tell you no one asked, “How can I help?” We were all too tired just trying to keep up with our own work. I know this because I left dialysis while working under these conditions. But that is not the point of this blog.
What is the point? The point is how better the world would be if, when we are told about another person’s problem our first response would be, how can I help?
We live in a world where the rugged individualist has become something to aspire to. “Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” or “Do you have to have someone hold your hand?” are both cliches that tell us we are all to be self-sufficient. That we shouldn’t need anyone else and to quote Dolly Levi from The Matchmaker that we should “Thank God that no one else’s life is tangled up with ours.” In The matchmaker, which became the musical Hello Dolly, Dolly learns that living that way is ultimately unhappy and the play and musical is her attempt, “to rejoin the human race.”
I think it’s time for us all to rejoin the human race.
People were never meant to live life on their own. It’s a Bible fact that says two are better than one and that’s not about marriage it’s about life. No one should have to or ever feel like they have to go it alone. And yet many people do. If this weren’t the case songs like Elinor Rigby or Alone Again Naturally, or Dust in the Wind, would never have become popular. Let’s be honest those are basically songs to commit suicide to, and I’m willing to bet that some people have.
Suicide is another problem which I believe stems from the idea that everyone has to make it on their own. Now, that is not the only reason. There are many other reasons people commit suicide. If you grow up being taught that this is the ideal way to live, making it on your own, then the minute you realize you cannot live this way you have to consider yourself a failure or feel less because you have to ask for help. Can you imagine with me a world that instead of chiding you for not making it on your own, asks, “How can I help?”
It would be a friendlier world. People would no longer be looking only at their own interests but also at the interests of all the other people in their lives. Dickens makes this perfectly clear through the character of Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol. Marley was dead and in chains, eternally remorseful for all the times he “minded his own business,” and did not reach out a hand to those who suffer or are in need. I call this part of Marley’s discussion with Scrooge, “Marley’s Lament.”
“Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed,” cried the phantom, “not to know, that ages of incessant labour by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!”
“Life’s opportunities misused.” Marley is not talking about opportunities to advance his career or to make more money. He took advantage of all those opportunities and it led him to eternal torment. Marley is referring to all the times he saw someone in need and walked away believing it was none of his business instead of asking, “How can I help?”
We are all, in many ways, self-centered these days. First, it’s ourselves we look to and then our families. After that, we may find time to help out a friend, but many of us don’t. I’m thinking of myself as much as anyone else.
Today, for instance, I was just coming in from the doctor’s office, and a lady who I know just a little was coming in thru the other door. I let her in so she wouldn’t have to scramble for her keys. We said hello and I headed for the elevator. While I was waiting she said a package had arrived that was supposed to help her with her TV reception. She said she hoped she could figure out how to hook it up. I responded that those devices are usually very easy to hook up and it should be no problem. The elevator door was closing when I realized that she may have been actually asking for help. I stopped the elevator door and said if you need any help come on up and get me. I couldn’t just volunteer to come with her and set it up as I had to get out of the shoes I was wearing. They help my feet but I can only wear them a little while each day. I don’t have her phone number or apartment number so I can’t reach out and see if she needs help. I feel a bit bad for not saying outright, “how can I help?”
Most TV shows are entertaining very few are inspiring. New Amsterdam is a show that I find both entertaining and inspiring. It’s a rare breed of television show and I hope you all take some time to catch up with it. It runs on Peacock and Hulu as well as NBC. I don’t know where you can stream the whole series, although it may all be on Peacock. I really encourage all of my readers to watch.
I went to my Primary Care Doctor today and though he was pleased with me in general, the bottom line is I gained two pounds in the last month and lost none. I wanted to avoid telling you this but when I began this journey I made a promise to keep you informed win or lose.
For me, I didn’t really lose this month. Yes, I gained two pounds, but I gained those pounds while actively dealing with another health problem. The stress of that problem influenced me to eat more than I was. Previously I was never hungry at lunchtime, all of the sudden I was always hungry at lunchtime and I had only bad choices to eat. And I ate them. That health issue is now under control and I am back on the path I had been on.
That’s it for now. Here’s my parting thought, if someone relates to you a problem they are going through, instead of offering advice first ask, How can I help?
The picture is the central cast of New Amesterdam from top left Dr. Iggy Frome (Tyler Labine) Head of Psychiatry, Dr. Helen Sharpe (Freema Agyeman) head of oncology, the big photo Dr. Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold) Bottom left Dr. Lauren Bloom (Janet Montgomery) Head of The Emergency Room, and last Dr. Floyd Ryenolds (Jocko Sims) Head of Cardiac Surgery.