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Sick and Tired (Parts I & II) was the first and second episode of Season 5 of The Golden Girls, and the 103rd and 104th overall episode of the series.

Summary[]

After five months of worsening fatigue and pain, Dorothy believes she is seriously ill. Her struggle to find the cause of her symptoms take her to multiple doctors. Meanwhile, Blanche decides to become a novelist.

Plot[]

Part 1[]

While preparing dinner, Blanche announces to Rose and Sophia that she believes her destiny is to become a romance novelist. When Dorothy arrives home, she is uninterested in Blanche's revelation, stating that she feels ill and hardly had any strength to work through the day. Rose and Sophia worry for Dorothy, mentioning that her illness has persisted for at least five months already, and press her to see a doctor. Despite having gotten a second opinion already, Dorothy agrees to visit a doctor again and to ask for specialist recommendations.

Dorothy visits Dr. Stevens with Sophia, to which he finds nothing clinically wrong with Dorothy after having run multiple tests. Both Dorothy and Sophia insist there is something wrong, but Dr. Stevens can only suggest that Dorothy is suffering something mental, and suggests the cause may be from depression for leading a widowed, single life. This only upsets Sophia, who insists there is something wrong with Dorothy before they leave. Later that night, Blanche complains of suffering from "writer's block" despite Dorothy mentioning Blanche needs to actually write something to claim suffering from it. Blanche then postulates that her writer's block could be cured if she went to New York with Dorothy to see the neurologist that Dr. Stevens recommended, but Dorothy remains firm that she would rather be accompanied by Rose since she feels more at ease with her and that Rose believes in Dorothy suffering from a disease.

In New York, Dorothy meets with Dr. Budd. He, too, reaches the same findings as all of Dorothy's previous doctors. When he suggests that Dorothy is suffering mentally instead, Dorothy produces testimony from two other psychologists that she is mentally sound. However, Dr. Budd is dismissive and short with Dorothy, and repudiates the psychological findings Dorothy provides. He continues to simplify the problem as her getting older and needing to do something different with her life. Dorothy leaves wordlessly. She returns to her hotel with Rose, where Dorothy pretends to put up a front until she eventually breaks down in despair and Rose comforts her.

Once home, Blanche still has not progressed on writing her novel, and Dorothy is too fatigued to come to dinner. Blanche and Rose try to comfort a worried Sophia, who laments on the possibility of outliving her own daughter.

Part 2[]

Dorothy visits her friend and pediatrician Dr. Harry, who empathizes with Dorothy and agrees that she is sick with an illness despite the difficulty for doctors to find a specific diagnosis. He recommends her to see another specialist he knows: Dr. Chang.

Back at home, Blanche is delirious after depriving herself of sleep to write her novel, claiming she has written incredible material. When offered to Rose to read it, Rose simply tells Blanche she has written mostly nonsense. Offended, Blanche struggles between thinking no one understands her genius and the world needing to read her works. She is eventually comforted and put to bed by Rose.

Dorothy is accompanied by Sophia to visit Dr. Chang. She is relieved when Dr. Chang diagnosis Dorothy's condition as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which is relatively new in the medical world and often dismissed by other doctors since there are no obvious signs that can be seen, and doctors can often blame the victim for failing to diagnose anything. He tells her that so far there is no cure, and that she simply has to live with it and treat her symptoms individually. Despite this, Dorothy is relieved to finally identify what she has.

At home again, Blanche is angry to receive another rejection letter from a publisher to publish her novel. She is also offended at the rejection letters being form letters, saying that they could not even give her any concrete reason and that she could take any harsh criticism thrown her way. Rose tries to comfort Blanche again, telling her that being kind and loving is enough to define a person when Blanche worried that she would not have anything to define herself after her looks fade, which was a pretense for her desire to be a novelist. Blanche dismisses Rose as simply spouting more "Minnesotan crap," which sets Rose to tell Blanche off for always criticizing her upbringing and culture, and that Blanche is no better than her. Blanche is stunned silent, but when Rose asks "Was I too harsh?", Blanche smiles at her.

Later that night, Blanche takes the rest of the girls out to dinner to celebrate finally discovering her diagnosis. As they drink champagne, Dorothy spots Dr. Budd also having dinner with his wife. She rounds on him, giving an impassioned testimony of how she was made to feel crazy and a fool for seeking his help. When she mentions that she may have been taken more seriously if she were a man, Dr. Budd makes an attempt to interrupt Dorothy to leave, but is silenced by his own wife. Dorothy continues on, remarking that he had lost his humanity as a doctor, and wishes that if he were one day seriously sick himself, that he receive the care of a doctor better than he is. She then returns to the girls to make a toast with their champagne, but all of them are shocked when Rose reveals it costs them $430 a bottle. Sophia then spikes her own glass with excess salt, complaining to the waiter to taste the quality, and getting their entire meal comped.

Guest Cast[]

  • Dr. Stevens - Jeffrey Tambor
  • Dr. Budd - Michael McGuire
  • Dr. Harry Weston - Richard Mulligan
  • Dr. Chang - Keone Young

Notes[]

  • Nielsen ratings - 34,800,000 viewers (4th place in the weekly ratings).
  • On the original episodes, this episode marks the start of an updated opening sequence. Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty now have new clips during their credit. (When shown in Lifetime syndication, this version of the opening is shown only during several episodes from Season 7).
  • Series creator Susan Harris based this two-part episode on her own experiences with chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome was officially classified by the CDC in 1987, which had previously been labeled as "myalgic encephalomyelitis" and still used in other parts of the world.
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