On House

Does God Limp?

By James Gilmer

The Western world, especially America, has an interesting relationship with pain. Perhaps it’s that old Judeo-Christian idea of suffering being good for the soul, with a dash of Puritan work ethic thrown in for good measure: the suffering of Adam and Eve, thanks to their fall from grace and all that. It also has an interesting relationship with the medical community: doctors are portrayed as stern authoritarian figures who know all and dispense god-like wisdom and healing from behind a stone-faced visage as they watch brave patients clutch the bed sheets in repressed agony, suffering through whatever malady may affect them.

Which brings us to Dr. Gregory House–the pill-popping genius who solves medical mysteries while crunching down Vicodin, an honest breath of fresh air in the often stale genre of medical dramas. House manages his pain with the help of Vicodin, a name-brand combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. The hydrocodone part is the thing that gets people uptight; it’s a semi-synthetic opioid derived from codeine and thebaine.

So in our society, where relief is just a medicine cabinet away (as the commercials tell us), why is this drug such a boogeyman? Why is it a big deal that House, who obviously functions well on the drug, takes it to function and do his job? Why does his best friend constantly try to talk him into trying different avenues of treatment? Why does that friend, an oncologist who deals with pain all the time in his practice treating cancer patients, constantly  …

More from James Gilmer

Stay Updated

on our daily essay, giveaways, and other special deals

Our Books

Subscribe via RSS