The Pain of House
I am a pop-culture junkie. If you have been playing along at home long enough this is common knowledge. I have been a big fan of House, M.D. since it’s poorly lit pilot. I am simultaneously appalled and amused by his crass behavior. Even the best feminist in me laughs and fairly inappropriate moments.
I have seen and read plenty of critques concerning Dr. House and his manner. I have chewed out my share of doctors for acting like him as if it makes them seem clever. He is a character that is worth critiquing on many levels and for many reasons from many points of view.
What I haven’t seen is a lot of criticism of the characters assembled around House. From Dr. Wilson, or Dr. Cuddy, or the myriad staff members he has had around him (yes, even Dr. Cameron-Chase) I have watched for nigh on five seasons now as all of the people who claim to care about him have done little more than chastise and concern troll his life. Most notably, his addiction to Vicodin as his chosen method of pain management.
A repeated theme throughout the series has been watching person after person in House’s life try to trick or otherwise convince him that he should quit taking Vicodin and learn how to deal with his pain. They constantly badger him about his addiction, and will go to great lengths to get him to quit taking his pain medication.
Only a person who has never experienced chronic pain would dare criticize a person for their pain management.
Because, like it or not, Dr. Gregory House is managing his pain. Sure, he is an addict. There is little argument there. The character admits it freely. In his own words he says that he takes a lot of pills because he is in a lot of pain. Whatever your feelings on narcotic medication it is a proven method for making intense and chronic pain manageable, and a down side to that is that narcotic drugs can in fact be dependency and/or addiction forming. The presence of an addiction does not take away the fact that the pain beneath it is real. When a doctor and a patient together decide to pursue pain management via narcotics such as Vicodin they will weigh the pros and cons of such treatment. One of the cons that is weighed is the fact that a person can develop an addiction to a drug and a tolerance that will probably mean their intake will increase over time. As with any course of treatment the costs must be weighed with the benefits.
House is able to function as a result of the Vicodin to which he has become addicted. He is able to be independent in moving and living, not housebound (no pun intended) by his pain. He is able to hold down his job and do it with the skill through which he receives his notoriety. His course of pain management gives him a life and independance that many of us living with pain or other disabilities are hoping to achieve. It might not make him a happy ray of sunshine all the time, but neither does living in agonizing pain all of the time.
It is very condescending for a person who is not living in pain to assume that they know better than that person how to manager hir pain. The way that I see House’s collegues and the people who could pass for his friends treat him over his addiction and the way he manages his pain strikes too close to the way I feel most doctors and friends of those of us living in chronic pain will treat us.
Criticize the way he behaves to his subordinates. Criticize the way he treats those closest to him. But if you don’t know what it is like to live with chronic pain, don’t criticize his decisions as to how he manages his pain. If it’s not your body, frankly, it’s not your business.
Originally posted at random babble…