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STABILIZING After several leg-related setbacks, Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) finally reached a little bit of peace with her prosthetic.
Arizona battles phantom leg syndrome, while a physician adviser arrives at Seattle Grace to cut costs| Published Jan 25, 2013
When last night's episode of Grey's Anatomy -- titled "Walking On a Dream" -- began with a leg-related nightmare for Arizona, I started an internal protest. "Ugh!" I thought to myself. "More on this damn leg?!" And then when I really thought about it a bit, I realized I wasn't being very fair. The truth is, the continued focus on Arizona's missing limb was warranted. The saga is dominating her life -- and, by proxy, the show -- and it'd be the same for me if I had gone through what she has gone through.
So, after I got into that mindset, I found last night's episode to be rather fascinating -- especially the whole phantom limb syndrome thing. That has to be just the weirdest thing! "Patients who undergo amputation often feel sensation where the missing limb was, as if it's still there," Meredith explained in her episode-opening monologue, while we watched Arizona run around with both legs and then watch one of them shatter dramatically in a dream. "The syndrome is called phantom limb. It's as if the body can't accept that a terrible trauma has occurred. The mind is trying to make the body complete again. Patients who experience phantom limb report many different sensations, but by far the most common is...pain."
It seemed that every realm of Arizona's life was being affected by still feeling pain in her leg -- whether she was in bed sleeping or in the OR doing surgery, she was thinking about her leg. And, as a means of preserving the good place she's gotten to with Callie in her marriage, she was keeping all the trouble to herself. Well, mostly -- she did share her problem with Owen, who was doing his best to help her. "I probably look as crazy as a bag of cats," she told the chief, after she stepped out of a surgery where she was having leg issues. "I'm going crazy." But Owen assured her that it was a very real problem -- and very fixable.
Owen's big save was to "re-route" Arizona's brain, to make her mind realize that her leg was gone and actually did not hurt. He used a mirror so that when she looked down, she'd see two regular legs, and he also tried a type of simulation therapy where she focused on the sound and sight of waves as a way to refocus her mind. "I cannot have this!" Arizona screamed while trying to figure it out. "I am finally getting my life back together, and I will not be screwed up by something that's not even there." One of the best scenes in the whole sequence came while Arizona was in surgery with Yang and Karev and she started freaking out about her leg once again. She finally asked Karev to stab her prosthetic foot with a scalpel as a way to deal with it. "This is an order!" Owen barked to Karev from the speaker in the gallery. "Stab Dr. Robbins in the foot right now!" A satisfying look of relief spread over her face as she looked down at the scalpel sticking up out of her shoe.
NEXT: Arizona gets even more relief, with a trip to the beach