How ‘Supernatural’ Helps Me Through Difficult Times With Illness
I know how cliche it sounds to say that a TV show has helped me through some difficult times, and anyone who really knows me knows that I don’t like cliches. The truth is, though, that a TV show has helped me through some difficult times. It may not sound like much to the average person and many may be thinking that TV is supposed to help, much as a great book does, by transporting you to a different place and taking your mind off of whatever is bothering you. It’s a release at the end of the day and a way to unwind.
I’ve been in and out of the hospital since 2004, unfortunately achieving a surgical count that is above 60 at this point. This count includes the amputation of my right leg and will continue to rise due to the fact that the osteomyelitis bone infections have spread from my leg to my right arm, which has so far cost me my right ulna and may end up costing me far more. I’m lucky enough to have an amazing medical team, but though it seems incredibly clear to everyone now that the infection randomly moved from one limb to another that I have some form of immune system defect, we can’t treat it. The immune system is so vast, and while we know a lot about it, we simply do not know nearly enough. That coupled with the fact that I am allergic to so many antibiotics makes treating me a very difficult thing.
Hospitals are never fun places to be, and aside from sleeping, I spend a great deal of my time there watching TV. There’s this several hour period of time mid-morning when there’s nothing on any of the limited channels you have there. It’s one talk show or or news show after another. But then I took a chance on a show a number of people I know had been talking and even raving about. That show is “Supernatural,” currently on its 12th season. During that mid-morning lull when not even reruns of any of the “Law & Order” spinoffs are airing, “Supernatural” is. I’d thought it sounded a bit hokey, but I eventually took a chance and I got hooked. The only problem was that I’d catch an episode here and there of different seasons. Then something glorious happened: Netflix. I could suddenly start at the very beginning and watch my way through 11 seasons, which is exactly what I did.
I can’t fully explain what it is about this show that appeals to me so much and why I consider it another form of treatment that, thankfully, I cannot be allergic to. I suppose in part it’s due to the fact that at an early age, I’ve had to ponder the subject of my own mortality and I’ve had to face it many times over the years standing on death’s doorstep more times than I care to think about. It tackles the subjects of life and death and heaven and hell and even purgatory in an often comedic way, though at times it goes much deeper. It tackles good versus evil and how there’s some of each in all of us. There’s levity with an Angel of the Lord who doesn’t understand simple references and the King of Hell having traded his soul when he was alive for an extra few inches below the belt. There’s the ever present notion of family and what it means to be family and backs up something I’ve always said: that family doesn’t have to be blood. Who your family is is based on love, loyalty, trust, being there when the chips are down and everything is on the line. As the character Bobby Singer says, “Family don’t end with blood.” It tackles the issue of sibling relationships and how one minute you love them and the next you hate them but that you always come back together in the long run. Having two older sisters of my own, I know how true that is.
The truth, for me, is that unless some random thing happens like being hit by a bus or I’m in a plane that goes down happens, infection is going to be what ultimately kills me. It’s been trying for years and I’ve thought many times that I must have the Mark of Cain on my body somewhere. The Mark of Cain, according to “Supernatural,” won’t allow whoever bears it to die in any way other than with the first blade, and apparently I am not allowed to die either because I keep cheating death. Unfortunately, my oldest sister didn’t have the Mark and I’d have given it to her in a heartbeat if I could, but cancer came and stole her as it steals so many. I, however, survive that which I shouldn’t. Severe sepsis with a 106.2 degree fever should have ended me or at least landed me in the ICU for days if not weeks, but instead I was back to normal and home the next day. Yes, it left me with what I refer to as “septic headache days” when there’s a constant throbbing in my head that nothing touches and was caused by boiling my brain with that fever, but it should have resulted in so much worse than that. My body is tired and my well of strength is diminished more and more with each infection and each surgery. But as the character Dean Winchester says, “I’ll keep fighting. I’ll keep swinging until I’ve got nothing left,” which is exactly how I look at my situation.
It’s not just the show, though, that has helped and continues to help me through the darker moments of my journey. It’s the actual people who make the show what it is. It’s the actors who I’ve watched far too many YouTube videos of who are truly good people. It’s knowing that behind the characters you see on the screen are real people who truly connect with their fans at conventions. I had a complete geeked out “Supernatural” fangirl moment when I posted a simple tweet thanking the actors for helping me get through so much, and Mark Sheppard who plays Crowley: The King of Hell, liked my tweet. The actors are constantly reminding their fans that bad times don’t last and that there’s always hope and promote doing random acts of kindness. I suppose what I’m saying is that the actors behind the characters on the screen aren’t egotistical jerks as is unfortunately quite often the case.
“Supernatural” has allowed me to ponder mortality and the facts of my life with both realness and comedy. Do I believe in vampires, werewolves, possession and leviathan? Of course not. Am I amused by the episodes full of such things? You bet I am. Do I believe in heaven and hell? Honestly, I tend to believe that we make our own heaven and hell in the here and now in how we live our lives and how we are remembered when we are gone. Is there a real hell with a real King? Is there a real heaven with real angels and God? I don’t know but I’d like to believe that if they do exist, they exist much as they do in the TV show. I’d like to believe that my oldest sister is up in heaven with the likes of Castiel and that when it’s my time, I’ll join her there. Until then, and for as long as I am able, I’ll keep on fighting and I’ll keep on swinging.
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