Painless

Monday, January 19 by

Tonight’s episode is about pain. Well, not all about pain, but mostly about it. The patient suffers from intense chronic pain that nobody can cure. House suffers ever-increasing pain in his legs, and he is starting to wonder if this pain will ever leave.  Ohhh, and a pipe breaks in House’s home, leading to an extended metaphor for House’s physical condition. Along with this main theme of pain are the smaller sub-plots that make House one of the best shows on television. Thirteen and Foremon discuss their kiss, Taub and Kutner fight about the ethics of suicide, and Cuddy gets approved to be a foster mom.  It is these little sub-plots that have me tuning into House every week. That and House’s sarcastic banter. I love that sarcastic banter.

The Patient

This episode starts with a man named Jeff writing a letter that he signs, “I’m Sorry”. He leaves his wedding ring on the letter and takes all his shirts out of his bedroom closet. The scene cuts to a mother and son in a car. They have to turn around because the son forgot his hockey stick at home. When the son opens the garage door, he finds his father- the man who was writing the note- sitting in his Mustang while the car was running. Jeff was trying to kill himself by inhaling the fumes from the Mustang. The mother pulls Jeff out of the car and manages to revive him. Jeff looks at his wife and says, “I’m sorry”.

House owes Cameron a favor, so he takes up the case of Jeff. He suffers from chronic pain that no amount of medicine has been able to cure and he tried to commit suicide because he couldn’t endure the pain. Taub takes a pain profile of Jeff while Thirteen and Foreman are ordered to check his house for somekind of cause to the pain. While Taub is taking the pain profile, he finds that Jeff has a loving aand supportive family. Both his son and wife are legitimately concerned for Jeff, who seems to be tired of living.

While searching Jeff’s house, Thirteen finds a freezer full of quail meet. She proposes that he has some sort of long-term food poisoning. House orders a muscle biopsy on the patient. Taub argues that Jeff’s condition is psychological. While taking the biopsy, Jeff passes out from the intense pain. The team tries to call House but he won’t answer the calls.

Kutner then suggests that the pain is cancer related. House instructs the doctors to check for tumors. While performing the scan, they don’t find cancer but rather some air in his intestine. Forman orders that the team find other pockets of air before the patient suffers a cardiac arrest. House knows something is up. He confronts the patient and finds teeth marks in Jeff’s IV bag. Jeff was trying to blow air into his veins, hoping to commit suicide. It is obvious Jeff wants to die REALLY bad.

Forman then suggests that the pain is caused by a glycogen storage disease. House tells them to run tests more tests. Kutner and Taub run a blood pressure test on Jeff while he is holding a tennis ball. If it is a storage disease, he will find it increasingly harder to hold the ball as they pump air into the cuff. All of the sudden, the pain jumps to Jeff’s legs. House wants to try a difficult procedure that essentially separates the patient’s brain and body. Not literally, but through drugs.  During this test Jeff explains to House how horrible it is to live with this amount of pain, and after Jeff says that some of the pain has left.

Later, the doctors find Jeff’s son writhing on the floor in pain. They immediately think he has the same condition his father has. House thinks otherwise, and runs into Jeff’s room to find an empty bottle of rubbing alcohol under Jeff’s sheets. The son was trying to draw attention away from his father so his father could kill himself. The son wants to see an end to his father’s suffering.

House than thinks it is Jeff’s addiction to opiates that is causing the pain. He thinks the opiates flipped his brain chemistry around, causing pain rather than preventing it. They clear his body of the drug, but this doesn’t work. They are out of ideas.
The patient’s wife comes to House. She pleads with House to let her husband die. House agrees.

Later in his home, House sees a plumber scratching his nuts. House is hit with a bolt of lightning. House realizes that deep in the brain, seizures caused by epilepsy can effect areas like the testicles. Jeff tells House that the pain began in his abdomen, just like someone had kicked him in the balls. House treats Jeff for epilepsy, and he is cured of his pain.

The Pain

The most striking aspect of the patient, Jeff, is his connection with House. They both have chronic pain. Cameron chose this patient for house because she wanted House to see what living with chronic pain was like, hoping it would spur House to act on his own illness. House is now having trouble getting into the bathtub because his pain is getting worse. He is obviously less concerned with work, and is coming to work late and leaving early. He is popping more and more painkillers. There is no denying it, the pain is getting worse.

Throughout the episode, the doctors tell House not to treat this patient any differently just because his condition is a lot like House’s condition. It is clear House is concerned with diagnosing Jeff’s pain, because he wants to diagnose his own as well.
At the pivotal meeting point between House and Jeff, Jeff paints quite the bleak outlook for House. Jeff points to House’s medicine and describes a time in which medicine will no longer help the pain. House is obviously concerned with his own pain, and is depressed by his future.

The Plumber

While House is lying on his bed, he feels a drop of water coming from his ceiling. He hits his ceiling with a broom and the ceiling breaks, sending buckets of water onto him. A plumber comes to the home and explains to House that the damage will not be covered by his insurance, because of negligence. Later in the episode, House uses a lawyer’s name to write a threatening email to the insurance company. He ultimately starts a fire in his house so he can rightfully collect his insurance to fix the pipes. In the end of the episode, House realizes that it was his negligence that caused the pipes to break.

Thirteen and Foreman

Thirteen and Foreman shared a kiss in the last episode. While searching through Jeff’s house, Foreman tries to rekindle their relationship. Thirteen stops him, saying that she doesn’t want to become involved with anyone because of her life threatening illness. Foreman is also in charge of a clinical study for Thirteen’s illness. As Thirteen enters for treatment, she runs into Janice, who is doing extremely well with this new drug trial. Thirteen insists that Foreman put Janice before her in the trial on purpose, hoping to show how much hope Thirteen’s can have in her life.

House knows Foreman put Thirteen in the study because he has a thing for her.  Later, Foreman visits Thirteen while she is getting treatment, and Thirteen asks Foreman on a date. Foreman is happy, but he finds out Thirteen is getting the placebo treatment, not the real drug, killing her chances at recovery. Will Foreman act unethically and give Thirteen the true drug in later episodes?

Taub and Kutner

Taub and Kutner discuss suicide throughout the whole episode. Taub thinks suicide is selfish while Kutner thinks it sometimes has merit. Taub tells Kutner of a friend of his in medical school who was so concerned with the patients that he ignored his own health, in turn leading him to attempt suicide. Taub says his friend was thoughtless and stupid. Kutner asks if this ‘friend’ was actually Taub himself, but Taub says no.

Cuddy, a Child, and Cameron

Cuddy is finding it increasingly hard to juggle her job, her foster child, and most of all–House. She is very scatterbrained through the whole episode, staying at home to take care of the child instead of dealing with her office duties. Her house is a mess when the foster care worker comes to check it out, but she passes his tests anyway. She realizes that she needs to hire an assistant for more help. She asks Cameron to take on some clerical responsibilities at the office, as well as become in charge of watching House.

My Two Cents

Wow, what an episode. Almost every episode of House is jam-packed with a solid story and memorable writing, and this episode was no exception.

First, let me say that House’s attitude throughout the show was depressing. He wasn’t his normal, endearingly bitchy self. The pain of his legs is getting to him. He no longer cares about work, and you could tell he doubts his existence. This season could see House doing something drastic because of the pain–possibly trying to commit suicide or quitting his job. He also didn’t seem as full of witty remarks for his doctors. He wasn’t even as heartless with this patient as he normally is. He was willing to let the patient kill himself, because he knew what living with that sort of pain is like.

He did make one great comment to Cuddy, who asked him, “When was the last time you showered”? He responded, “That’s just the scent of a man, but I guess you wouldn’t recognize that smell when you’re sober”. I like when he bashes Cuddy, always making fun of her as some sort of whore.

I’m not sure how I felt about House’s home breaking down around him. It was obviously a metaphor for his health, but it just didn’t grab my attention.
One of my favorite characters, Wison, was mostly absent from this episode. Dammit, there should be more Wilson.

Finally, I  see great potential for Foreman breaking some ethical barriers in order to help Thirteen. I would like to see them hit it off more- it is obvious he cares for her.

 

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COMMENTS

  1. January 19, 2009 8:52 pm

    Gg

    I live with chronic pain and have tried suicide when Jeffflat lined after the air in the iv bag I actually shouted “let him go” and cried. I don’t normally talk to TV just it all seemed so real to me.