Why Complicate Things When There’s a Simple Explanation?
Caregivers are used to complex medical issues, but sometimes it's not that
If you’re ever having a conversation with a film enthusiast, eventually, they will mention the brilliance behind Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws.”
In “Jaws,” the fictional town of Amity Island faces growing tragedy when an oversized great white shark starts terrorizing beachgoers. After an incompetent mayor refuses to close the beaches and several townspeople and tourists get eaten, police chief Martin Brody and two unlikely men venture out into the deep water to finally kill the massive beast.
The film’s 1975 theatrical release is lauded as one of the most outstanding examples of building audience anticipation. Throughout the movie, the audience witnesses unsettling night shots, vulnerable swimmers yanked under the dark water, and yellow barrels floating on top of the water as a warning of the shark’s presence, and to show its tenacity and ferocity.
Occasionally, a fin emerges to create the illusion of danger, but we never see the actual shark until the one-hour, 21-minute mark of the two-hour movie.
For years, some thought Spielberg had perfected the art of hiding the monster until its big reveal. Think pieces dissected the psychology behind knowing the “monster” of the movie is there but never actually seeing it. And with each article or analysis, fans praised Spielberg’s name for digging into this concept with a simple shark movie.
Indeed, the director had studied and dedicated long hours to executing a series of complicated shots that shielded the title character, so that by the time it suddenly appeared on screen, everyone would jump in their seats.
But that wasn’t the case at all.
During filming, the mechanical shark continuously malfunctioned. Every time the crew tried to film scenes showing the massive animatronic, it stopped working altogether. Spielberg finally opted out of using it on camera after filming went over budget and was dangerously behind schedule.
One of the greatest films in history, praised because it kept us from seeing the main antagonist, came out that way only because of a broken robot.
Sometimes, it’s just that simple.
When our oldest daughter, whom we fondly call Ladybug, was diagnosed with hereditary angioedema (HAE), we weren’t prepared to learn about its intricate science. Soon we felt buried in charts and paperwork, each meticulously explaining the ins and outs of this complicated illness and the symptoms that come with it. And because we live in complex explanations daily, I tend to overcomplicate everything medical looking.
One day, after a few weeks of hospital stays, at-home infusions, and several days missed at school, Ladybug casually entered our bedroom to retrieve something. As a mom and a caregiver, my initial instinct is to give her a glance to assess if she’s experiencing any swells. I quickly looked at her face, neck, and belly, satisfied that she looked good. But when my eyes reached her hands, I was immediately horrified. Right around the edges of her fingernails and tips of her fingers, I saw a slight tint of blue.
Although I wasn’t familiar with this symptom associated with HAE, I immediately sat up and grabbed her hand to get a closer look. Simultaneously, in my head, I began taking inventory of my hospital bag location, figuring out how to text my colleague to tell her I wasn’t coming to work, and formulating an email to cancel classes the following day.
Ladybug looked down at her hand. “Oh,” she said casually, “I gotta get the ink off.”
“What?” I asked as I tried to keep my voice calm.
“I was coloring and forgot to wash my hands.” She shrugged. Then, she promptly left the room, completely unaware that my heart was still racing.
Before assessing the situation, I had already concluded that she was experiencing hypothermia, loss of oxygen, or some sort of heart failure. But in reality, it was just a homemade art project with a blue magic marker.
One of the hardest things for many caregivers is first looking for the simplest explanation. We have trained ourselves to climb a complicated ladder of clues to reach a diagnosis because we live in that reality every day. But it’s not always that complicated.
Sometimes those we care for just need a Band-Aid, cough syrup, acetaminophen, or an antacid. It’s important we train ourselves to consider those options, too.
Let’s make it our goal not to rush to the most complicated explanation every time. Every once in a while, it’s OK to keep it simple.
Note: Angioedema News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angioedema News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to angioedema.