By Diana Costine
Filming the second season of NY Med was very different for me than filming season 1, because I found myself in a unique position of role reversal: going from treating patients to being a patient myself.
I had surgery this season to implant a pacemaker into my heart. Being only 29 when I found out that I needed a device to make my heart work properly, I was devastated. I felt as though I had failed in some way, like my body had failed me. I had to face the fact that I was no longer in control of my body, which is terrifying in itself. The consequences to not having this surgery outweighed my reluctance. I didn’t really have a choice. I could forgo the operation, but then I’d have to walk all over New York City, hoping that I don’t faint in front of a subway train. In all honesty, it was only a matter of time before something really bad happened.
The day of my surgery, I was terrified. Being an ER nurse, all we do is control chaotic situations, and make things better. But here I was, in a situation that I couldn’t control.
I was lucky enough to have my amazing mom and boyfriend there with me. They were both incredibly supportive, but the real person who got me through that day was Isaac: the director of photography for “NY Med,” who I’ve known for over four years now. Isaac was the main videographer assigned to me through both seasons 1 and 2. Because my schedule in the ER was often Isaac’s schedule, I sometimes referred to him as, “my work husband,” due to the fact that I saw him more than I actually I saw my own boyfriend at the time. Since Isaac and I had worked together for over four years, it felt appropriate that he be the one to film my surgery.
So the day of my surgery came, Isaac was there, and did his usual things: interviewed my family, my doctors, me. But by the time I was being wheeled into the OR, my anxiety had skyrocketed. As I lay on the table, waiting for them to begin, I started to cry. I was just so overwhelmed, and felt so out of control and alone. I wasn’t supposed to be on this end. I’m usually the caregiver, not the patient. As I lay there, silently crying, I felt someone grab my hand. It was Isaac. He had put his camera down, and came over and stood by my bed, holding my hand as they administered the medication to make me sleepy. It was one of the last things I remember.
It always comes down to human connection. We want people to be there with us, and be present, and know that we are heard, especially during times where we feel so out of control and lost, which is often when we or our families are in the hospital. The fact that Isaac took a minute without his camera, sat with me in that OR, holding my hand while they put me to sleep meant volumes to me. I felt like I truly had a friend there with me that day, not just some cameraman.
It’s been over a year now since my surgery, and I have never felt better. It’s funny to look back at how scared I was, compared to how amazing I feel now. It is truly one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I’ve had no fainting episodes since, and feel like I have this new outlook on life. I can’t thank my cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital enough, along with my amazing family and friends, who were all so supportive. But special thanks will always go to Isaac.
Diana Costine, R.N. is an emergency department nurse at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.