Chronic Pain Is Highlighted On TV’s “House”

Episode Title: Painless (Season 5, Episode 512)
Writers: Thomas Moran & Eli Attie
Original Air Date: 1-19-09
Summary from the FOX.com website: House (Hugh Laurie) and the team take on the case of a man living with such severe chronic pain that he tries to kill himself.

While the story of this episode begins fairly bleak, I know some people will find the content to be very realistic, which is exactly why I’m blogging about it. Personally, I am thankful that a television show has given chronic pain some cred. Chronic pain is certainly not your typical TV “disease of the week,” yet it deserves to receive some attention because it is largely misunderstood.

I’m not a regular viewer of House, but I do know that House himself suffers from chronic pain, which is part of what drives him to look at every possible angle in order to properly diagnose the chronic pain patient. Like a lot of us arthritis warriors, our disease can sometimes be difficult to identify. I know people who have been in pain for years, yet have gone that entire time without a true diagnosis.

We all know, all to well, that time spent in pain (diagnosed or not) is emotionally and physically taxing, as it is shown in this episode. Two quotes from “Painless” that perfectly illustrate that point: Patient: “I pray for strength more than hope.” (Wow, I can relate to that quote on a lot of levels.) House: “He’s [the patient] not in pain because he’s depressed. He’s depressed because he’s in pain.”

Another quote that really struck me from the episode is this one:

“You’re alone, that’s why you can handle your pain,” the patient explains to House. “No need to put up a front to be what anyone else wants you to be.”

This line makes me think that one of the writers responsible for this episode had some personal experience with chronic pain because it is dead on. On days that I don’t feel so great, but have to go to work, I’m definitely putting up that front. It’s become so automatic that I don’t realize it until I come home exhausted. Sometimes putting up that front is a necessary part of coping, I would get tired of hearing myself complain if I grumbled each time that I was experiencing pain. Plus, I think complaining on a regular basis would make my pain more difficult to manage. Anyone else agree with me?

I recommend giving this episode a look, so I embedded it in the post. Watch it with a friend or loved one and use it as a jumping off point for a discussion about your chronic pain. You can also check it out on Fox.com or Hulu.com.

If you have seen other shows deal with this subject, or arthritis, please let us know in the comments. I’d love to check them out, too.

I’ll leave you with this quote:
“Gotta let the phone ring more than four times when you are calling a cripple.” -House