So a while back, I mentioned that my wife and I had started watching House on the Peacock streaming service, thus making us one of the like eight people who subscribe to Peacock. Given the fact that House has caught on with my wife*, and the fact that it ran for eight seasons with around 22 episodes a season, we’re going to be watching it into the indefinite future, and now that we’re some ways into it, there have been some further thoughts and commentary on the subject. For instance:
Me: “We should make up a House drinking game.”**
Wife: “What would that involve?”
Me: “Oh you know. The usual. Every time somebody suggests it’s vasculitis, you take a shot. Every time a patient has a seizure, you take a shot. Every time House insults somebody or says something inappropriate, you take a shot. Every time I shriek and look away from the screen, you take a shot.”
Wife: “We would be hammered halfway through every episode if we did that.”
It’s true: At least two or three times an episode, I have to avert my eyes.
Me (hiding face behind hands): “This show is payback for everything I’ve ever made you watch, isn’t it?”
Wife (unbothered, watching somebody get a needle jabbed into their forehead or whatever): “Yep.”
My wife remains puzzled at my reactions to what happens to patients in this show.
Wife: “You watch zombies eat people.”
Me: “Yeah, but that’s never actually going to happen.*** These are realistic procedures, some of which I’ve personally experienced.”
I’ve also learned, through no analysis of my own, that House is basically Sherlock Holmes updated as a medical drama. If I’d gotten to the point of noticing that House lives at 221b Baker Street, then, yes, I would have figured this out, because that’s a pretty big hammer to get hit over the head with; but instead the Internet told me. And it’s very obvious once you know. Consider:
- House’s last name is, of course, House; Sherlock Holmes’s last name is, well, just say it with me a few times. Now say it without pronouncing the “L”.
- House is addicted to vicodin; Holmes was addicted to cocaine.
- James Wilson == John Watson. There’s the name similarity again!
- I guess Cuddy == Holmes’s landlady. Except younger. And doesn’t own the hospital. And is way more sarcastic.
- House’s three little helper doctors == The Baker Street Irregulars (meaning the street urchins deployed by Holmes to gather intelligence, not the literary fan club)
Me: (Explains all of the above to my wife)
Wife: (Quite obviously could not care less)
Now, that last item on the list of Sherlock Holmes similarities also, of course, explains the fact that House’s three little doctor helpers perform literally every function that it’s possible to perform in a hospital, not to mention various functions that no hospital provides and that are probably illegal. For instance, they run lab tests!
Me: “Most hospitals employ actual lab technicians to do this sort of thing.”
They draw blood!
Me: “Doesn’t this hospital have any phlebotomists?”
They interpret scans and X-rays!
Me: “I guess they’re all radiologists … ?”
They break into houses!
Me: “One of these days they’re all going to wind up in jail.”
They dig up patients’ dead pets like Victorian-era grave robbers!
Me: “They must have some sort of staff who could do this for them.”
They lie to patients about their treatments!
Me: “This hospital would have gotten sued at least a dozen times by now in real life.”
But it’s all in good fun, and in the service of diagnosing mysterious ailments. Speaking of which, in one episode, there was a patient who was intermittently psychotic, resistive of treatment, and so aggressive that, at one point, she actually bit one of the Baker Street Irregulars. A little later in the episode, somebody tried to give her water to swallow a pill; she took a sip, spat the water out, and started screeching that it was poison, at which point I said (nearly 20-year-old spoiler alert):
Me: “Uh-oh. Rabies.”
My wife wanted to know how I had jumped to that conclusion based on the spitting out of water, which got us into a sidebar discussion wherein we paused the show so I could explain to her about hydrophobia; and unlike most of the times when I pause a show or movie for such a sidebar, my wife was actually interested in this one. So we read the Wikipedia stuff about rabies and fear of water, and then we went back to House, and, before long, the poor patient—who had begun suffering from a very high fever—needed to be put into a bath of ice water, which freaked her the fuck out.
Me: “See? Hydrophobia. Somebody really needs to tell House about this.”
But apparently nobody did tell House about it, because he was still stabbing in the dark for diagnoses, as always happens for the first 40 minutes or so of every episode. At this point my wife couldn’t take the suspense anymore.
Wife: “Hold it, hold it. Pause the show and look up what the diagnosis was. I want to know if you were right.”
Me: “Okay, just a sec.” (pauses show, looks up final diagnosis on the Internet***) “Tuberculoma and rabies. We were right.”
Wife: “That doctor she bit better go get some shots.”
This remains, so far, the only episode in which we stopped to look up the diagnosis ahead of time. It’s also the only episode where we nailed the diagnosis before House did, although we came close a few other times. Of course, it helps that we’re privy to information that people don’t always bother to convey.
House (towards end of episode, writing symptoms on whiteboard): “… and hydrophobia.”
Me: “Somebody finally told him!”
House: “It’s rabies.”
Finally, there was this one episode where one of the Baker Street Irregulars was in talking to the patient—because, as previously mentioned, in House, those three doctors do everything, including things that nurses would normally do such as regularly stopping by to see how patients are doing—when the patient suddenly projectile-vomited all over him.
Wife: “Well, at least that’s something you didn’t do in the hospital, right?”
Me: “Au contraire! You just weren’t there for it.”
I then proceeded to show her this little bit from The Event:
Speaking of throwing up, during the week, I got to meet a nurse who had helped take care of me when I was first in ICU.
Nurse #1: “Hey, do you remember Other Nurse? She was here when they brought you in. We were getting you into bed when you started vomiting, and she helped us get you upright so you wouldn’t aspirate. She told you to turn your head and you turned towards her and vomited all over her. She was asking how you were doing and wants to come see you.”
I didn’t really remember Other Nurse, but I did vaguely remember throwing up while lying down, not being able to clear it from my mouth, and thinking, This is bad. But at the time I was semiconscious at best. Anyway, a little later, Nurse #1 and Other Nurse came in for a brief visit.
Other Nurse: “How are you? Oh you look so much better than when you came in.”
Me: “Thank you. I hear I owe you an apology.”
Other Nurse: “No no, it happens all the time.”
As I explained to my wife:
Me: “I guess when she said to turn my head, you know, I automatically turned it towards the person who told me to do that.”
Wife: “You need very specific instructions. She should have said Turn your head the other way.”
Another thing that seems likely to cause projectile vomiting, besides a ruptured cerebral aneurysm and whatever it is that the patient in this episode had, would be if we actually attempted to play that drinking game I mentioned back at the beginning of the post. Fortunately there’s no danger of that.
Booze is much too expensive to go through an entire bottle of it on a single episode of House.
* I like it too, but, notoriously, I like everything.
** I am far from the first person to think of this.
*** No whammy!
**** Final House diagnoses on the Internet: A thing. In fact, multiple things.