*NOTE: a few spoilers from the movie The Big Sick*
I finally sat down to watch The Big Sick this weekend. It had been highly recommended to me by multiple people, and I can very clearly see why.
If you haven’t seen it, the premise is a Pakistani comedian who has to maneuver through family and love in a funny and real way. I saw many similarities to my own life in the movie.
I come from an Indian family. Although raised in a very American way, I did grow up eating traditional Indian food at home and experiencing the culture and religion of my parents and family. Although different from Kumail’s Muslim background, the similarities about strong family values came through in a very personal way.
When I first started dating someone who was not Indian, I was met by resistance, especially from my mother. Not unlike Kumail’s mother, my own was expecting me to marry an Indian guy and the thought of anyone else was unbearable. She has since grown to accept things the way they are, without disowning me thankfully.
Kumail also deals with the healthcare system. In a humorous way, you see how patients perceive doctors. Different providers spewing medical jargon about his sick loved one, to the point where the family gets confused and ends up turning to the terrifying world of the internet, where everything (in fact) could be cancer. You see the frustration and fear in in their eyes as they watch helplessly as a loved one lies in a hospital bed, sedated and intubated, with lines and tubes coming out from their body. It’s heartbreaking to experience as a physician, and I can only imagine how families feel when they see this. It made me take a step back and analyze my interactions with patients. Am I using medical jargon? Do I pause and let the patient ask questions? Do I give patients and their families the time they need to fully understand what is going on? I would like to think my answer to all of these is yes, but even so, there is plenty of work to be done.
The ending is a happy one. Many times, we as physicians get the immense privilege of seeing a patient recover and go home from the hospital. Unfortunately that is not always the case. Dealing with that takes a toll on you in many different ways.
The truth is, real life is not like the movies. But The Big Sick is as close to reality as any movie could be.