Thursday, December 30, 2010

'Desperate Housewives' Pumps Up The Drama With Dialysis Treatments...

Okay, be honest, how many of you also kind of cheered a little when the dust settled from the riot on Wisteria Lane and you saw that Juanita was okay, Lee was going to be okay, but it was Susan who was down for the count? Just me? Oh...

The thing is, Susan has become quite the annoying character of late. Her holier than thou attitude upon learning of Tom and Renee's long-lost fling is quite a way to follow up her (unwarranted) holier than thou attitude about letting a baby cry itself to sleep. The woman who was once the center of the drama, the romance, and the action has been relegated to the nitpicky boredom that I always assumed suburbia to be. And that's the exact opposite of what this show promises me week after week! So, perhaps a bit rudely, it is welcome that she gets a more serious, more important story line-- even if it is one of illness.

Last we saw Susan, she was lying in the street, seeming unconscious, after having been trampled by the mob rushing away from the half-way house protest. Some television shows may have chosen to stick a band-aid on her head and plop her back into her rundown little apartment, fretting over missing her husband, Desperate Housewives is instead looking at the ramifications of one of their leads being hurt just as badly as one of their supporting characters were the last time there was a disaster in their cul-de-sac.

ABC has confirmed that Susan will suffer from kidney failure after literally having her body used as a stepping stone for who-knows-how-many in that mob. Spending some time in the hospital will be a good device to bring back the great guest stars who act as her distant family members (Lesley Warren and Andrea Bowen included), but moreover it is a great story device to offer actor Teri Hatcher a chance to really shine, and the series itself to tackle tough, timely issues.

Being placed on dialysis is not a welcome treatment for anyone familiar with its intrusiveness, but it also needs to be noted that it is not a cure, nor a permanent fix. While one can live the rest of their lives on dialysis treatments, the person's quality of life will be forever changed. There are many long hours spent in clinics to which to look forward as well as hours of fatigue and lethargy that immediately follow treatment. Some will find themselves too wiped out to drive, let alone take care of a house or kids. Work, travel, and even errand activities need to be scheduled around trips to the doctor. A kidney transplant, while still coming with a slight lifestyle adjustment, is what Susan is going to look for here...but her family may prove to be reluctant to offer her that part of themselves, and the waiting list is long and treacherous for most.

It's an issue that not a lot know about-- unless you are one of the unlucky ones placed on that list (or you watch 30 Rock), but let's face it, Desperate Housewives has never really been a show known for "teaching moments."

Susan and her husband Mike have been struggling financially for the past two seasons-- so much so that they rented out their house on Wisteria Lane and he took a job in Alaska in order to save up money. So her new-found medical bills are not going to be welcome, for more reasons other than her health and her inability to care for their son while she is stuck in the hospital. What are the odds she has good insurance, after all? When corners need to be cut, for many families, that is the first thing to go. Desperate Housewives has the chance to showcase a very real epidemic in our country here, and I, for one, cannot wait to see how they handle it.

I have health insurance, though admittedly the coverage is minimal as I do not like doctors and do not have "extra" money to spend on something I would only use in case of an emergency right now. But I also have family members who I watched live through both dialysis and a kidney transplant, so I have very high hopes and expectations for this story line. In order to do it justice, we need to see it play out over the rest of the season and then some. We need to see Susan's struggles, now greatly enhanced by her failing health, and how they affect not only her own family, but her community, as well. Because with a community as tight as this one, there is no way they won't band together to find help for their friend. "Kidney Now" take two, anyone?

Desperate Housewives made a name for itself for being part campy, melodramatic primetime soap opera, but it has also tried its hand at much more serious topics like pill addiction, alcoholism, and cancer. Every time it has brought the story in to punch-up the drama and hopefully bring in more viewers. But every time those strong, potentially game changing story lines were wrapped up a bit too neatly after only a few weeks, looking much more like a sweeps stunt than any real attempt to take on important issues. I'm not saying this show needs to switch gears completely and spend an act a week devoted to medical procedural elements, but after seven seasons, and so many other fans falling off with the series, I'm still here, and I hope I will finally be rewarded with proper treatment of this story line for that!


Theresa said...

As a dialysis patient myself, I think Marc Cherry shoukd have researched a bit more on renal failure. In real life, Susan would not have to run 6 hours prt treatment not unless she was obese and non compliant with her diet. In real life, it would be mire like 3-3 1/2 hours.

I really took offense with the storyline how she used her illness to get perks. And Vanessa Williams remark about liking this Sysan with the non working kidneys better. Thus is no joke and a very real and sensitive matter. I just think Marc Cherry shoukd get his facts straight on this matter.

Theresa said...

Aww, one more thing to add, when Susan and Vabessa Williams character were at the froo froo restaurant, fir someone who is on dialysis, Sudan's arms were flawless. A dialysis patient would not have flawless arms like that. You could have used makeup to maje her arms look a bit bruised or a fake fitula. Do your research, ifvyou want to bring a sensitive subect as dialysis on your storyline, then do your research and know a real dialysis patient would nit have flawless arms. Tgey would ve scarred and you would clearly see what a real dialysis patient has to endure!!!