Sometimes, ghosts from your past come back to haunt you. This episode, Pipes, is less than 5 minutes in before I have to pause it. Back in 2015, I had a coworker, a young girl about 21, recently married, who found out she was pregnant. It was blessed news, both families were strong religious types, and keeping the family line going was important. It was a boy. But she, like Barb, found out her child had a tumor. Since his birth, two years ago almost to the day now, he has had 11 surgeries, but he is a fighter, much like his mom. I wanted to mention this story, because I am a little more emotionally connected to this episode already. Let’s dive into the story – I hope it ends well like my friend’s did.
Shaun’s homelife seems to be going… unwell. It seems he cannot sleep, hinted in the other few episodes, and it’s effecting his performance as a doctor. We get to see Dr. Melendez and Dr. Andrews already bumping heads early on. But the real bombshell comes from Barb’s husband – he does not want the surgery, and legally, he has the right to stop the surgery on his child.
While Dr. Melendez works with Barb, we see Claire and Shaun doing more scutwork: an abscess that needs to be drained. It turns out it is an inflamed nerve, and we find out the young, 18-year-old patient works in porn. I for one think work is work, and she does say she gets regular medical check-ups every 30 days. It brings a nice, comedic side to the episode.
And BAM, the council of
old people board directors hit us with the decision on Barb – either let the child die inside her, and kill her in the process, or go against the father’s wishes, and hope the gray area won’t effect them legally, but potentially saving both of their lives. We also see the stress of the decision on the couple – the mother happy, the father upset, concerned, and worried. Their reactions seemed to be effecting Dr. Melendez, and we get to see it a bit more as we flash through the different doctors all trying to rest, snuggled in beds… and Shaun, riding a bus. And missing his stop. And standing awkwardly, holding his plastic toy scalpel, late at night. Luckily, it is Lea to the rescue!
We get to see the lovely Nurse Fryday, and she was just as lovely as I remember. As Andrews compliments Shaun’s examination, and Claire asks how he knows and he implies he is Santa. Then, Nurse Fryday pipes up, saying how she told him, and the doc merely says, ‘No presents for you.’ It’s these little gems that make the series so good. And then we have the comedic storyline turn serious, as the young girl has a tumor, and surgery would end her career. And just before we go back to Barb and her baby! Lovely.
Surgery goes badly, with Barb having a heart attack, but luckily, the surgical team stop it. Shaken, they do not want to attempt again, but now the father is pushing for the surgery as well. In a shocking move, Jared comes up with a decent idea all on his own, instead of stealing Shaun’s for once – let’s kill her. It looks like it will be a sleepless night for a lot of people.
And then we get Shaun’s mental breakthrough, connecting a thigh nerve so she still has feeling down there. Brilliant, and the girl seems all for it. Dr. Andrews compliments how well Claire and Shaun are doing. Barb’s surgery goes well, her son and her have a great prognosis, and Claire, Jared and Shaun all go for a beer – what a great, uplifting way to end the episode. Sadly, the writers must hate us, because they insert a clip of young Shaun and a girl who offers a kiss if Shaun takes off his pants, but he tries to walk away, only to find out it was a cruel joke. Sometimes I hate this series.
Let’s talk medical! Remember last episode, when they were transporting the kidney, and there was a clot? Well, a clot is a collection of blood cells that keep sticking together because of damaged blood vessels. Barb, she has a disorder called antiphospholipid syndrome. What happens is your immune system attacks some of the normal proteins in your blood. When one becomes pregnant, more cells are made, to make the child, but with ABS, more cells mean more clots. Clots are especially dangerous for the brain and heart, because blood needs to flow to these organs for functioning purposes. Take a straw – how often have you had something stuck in your straw while drinking a milkshake, or something with fruit in it. Some people blow out the object, but your heart can only pull blood in. The strain on pulling nothing leads to a heart attack. With the brain, a clot might kill certain areas, because it is hard to detect if the blood is making it to an area while under anesthesia. It’s why Jared’s idea was so risky, because the blood flow is regulated through a bypass machine, but who knows if there is a blood clot in her brain.
About the tumor with the baby. Like I mentioned, a friend of mine actually went through something similar to Barb’s situation. The tumor for her became cancerous after the child was born, which makes me hope we never see Barb or her son again. But, the tumor in both cases was half the baby’s body. Even now, if you suddenly grew half your size, your body might not be able to adapt to the demands of pumping blood through the added tissue, which is why surgery was the only option. Usually the tumors act like a leech, completely useless, just sucking up blood that could be used towards growing vital organs in the fetus. Surgery is extremely delicate, especially since the fetus has to return to the placenta to keep growing. My friend ended up having the baby 3 months early, because of how dangerous the surgery was.
Well, that’s all for this week, I hope to see you all again next week. Until then, stay shiny!