This week's Grey's Anatomy took Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) on an intense healthcare journey when the beloved Chief of Surgery realized she was having a heart attack. But rather than tell her husband Ben (Jason George) or her Grey Sloan colleagues, she kept her health scare a secret and opted for treatment at another hospital.
The move proved to be near-fatal after several doctors, unable to see the signs, passed off her heart attack as a stress-related illness. The episode saw her continually fight for treatment for the heart attack she knew she's experiencing despite being told her condition might be tied to her OCD.
"Her instinct, as a woman and as a healthcare professional, is to trust [her]self, to be [her] own patient advocate," Chandra Wilson told TV Guide. "You can know that in your head but when you actually have to experience that, it's a really different [situation] because you're really vulnerable."
Though growing more visibly upset throughout the episode, Bailey did not waiver in her self-advocacy and even called in Maggie Piece (Kelly McCreary), Grey Sloan's current head of Cardiothoracic Surgery, to back her up. The life-saving gesture worked for her in the end but not before an extremely close call in which she flatlined in the OR. Nearing death, her mind flashed to difficult memories with deceased friends Derek Shephard (Patrick Dempsey) and George O'Malley (T.R. Knight), along with other traumatic moments from her life. According to Wilson, Bailey's mind goes to a dark place because of the unexpected turn of events.
"That wasn't the plan that day," she explained. "So what you're left with is, 'Okay, were you happy?' It forces you, once you get through that experience, to take stock and live in every moment. It's not odd that she would have been thinking about [Derek and George] and what they must have been thinking at the moment it was time for them to go."
Bailey ends up pulling through only to be faced with a concerned Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) asking her about taking time off. But a leave of absence isn't an option for Bailey who believes missing work to recover might change everyone's perception of her ability to do her job.
"I think what she was saying was she can't afford to be seen as weak. That's what she has learned," Wilson explained of Bailey's impassioned speech. "It was never an issue for [Webber] when he was electrocuted...Whereas, for her, the question is, 'Do you need more time?' And she doesn't wanna be put in that position. She's worked really hard to prove her capabilities. She doesn't want a clogged artery to change that."
While her heart attack probably won't change the way her colleagues view her, the harrowing experience has altered her perception quite a bit, allowing her to be more open to Ben's dangerous new gig as a firefighter.
"What she comes to the conclusion of in the end is that life is just too short and you have to spend your life being happy...Whether that's a career change or putting your all into your relationship and loving someone for exactly who they are instead of who you want them to be," said Wilson.
So it looks like she and Ben are finally on the same page about his career change which is good news for their marriage. And now that they've overcome that hurdle, Wilson says you can expect to see her pop up on the Grey's spinoff, Station 19 when it premieres in March. "You know she's gotta go over there and mark her territory," Wilson declared with a laugh. "At the end of the day, Ben and Bailey are husband and wife who now work in separate places and we get to explore what that looks like through both shows. "
Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8/7c on ABC. Meanwhile, Station 19 arrives Thursday, March 22 at 9/8c.