26 March 2007

315: Half-Wit

"Half-Wit." Not a lot of hidden meanings can really be drawn from this title, yet I shall endeavour to do so.

The obvious reference to the patient of the week's musical savantism is...well, obvious. One may take a further step, however, and look at the final treatment: hemispherectomy. Ultimately, the patient is half as witty as before. I will close this line of thought with the comment that I do not like this possible comparison; it's very...physical in terms of its meaning.

The more satisfying hidden connection with the title regards House's alleged battle with brain cancer. The mere fact that he tried to fake brain cancer to get direct injections of antidepressant therapy drugs into his brain is ridiculously absurd and a "half-witted" move in and of itself. This clearly comes into view when Wilson confronts House about this, pointing out that the real cancer patients who get depressed don't have anyone to support them; House, on the other hand, has people willing to support him. Despite this, House fakes cancer to avoid dealing with people's support as a means of obtaining a chemical treatment for his dysthymia (I hesitate to consider House to be truly depressed, since his bad leg plays something of a factor with regard to his misery).

I'll try to do two or three of these next post, and I plan on continuing the reverse order of episodes at this rate. I may mix it up though.

22 February 2007

Patient Diagnoses, continued (and some miscellaneous material this blog covers)

Time to pick up where I left off...

Season 2

Anica Jovanovich - Clostridium perfringens
Fletcher Stone - Cerebral malaria
Margo Dalton - Hepatocellular adenoma (caused by birth control pills)
Adam - Serotonin Storm (caused by antidepressants used to assist in quitting smoking)
Alexandra Simms - Testicular cancer ("she" has male pseudohermaphroditism)
Henry Arrington - Brucellosis (requires heart transplant); Laura Neuburger (deceased) - gonorrhea (indicated by Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome)
Bob Palko - Gold poisoning
Melinda Bardach - Tick paralysis
Ian Alston - Erdheim-Chester disease (Author's Note: This may be a unique presentation of the disease, as indicated by Wikipedia AND several random medical journal articles concerning the disease)
Hannah Ward - Bubonic plague
Boyd Mullins - Herpes encephalitis
Officer Joe Luria (deceased), Doctor Eric Foreman - Naegleria fowleri, causing primary amoebic meningoencepalitis (Episodes 20-21)
(both of the following are from episode 22, "Forever")
Kara Mason - celiac disease, MALT (Mucosa-Associated Lymphoid Tissue) lymphoma
Michael Mason (deceased) - celiac disease, kidney damage due to asphyxiation
Leona Baker - Zygomycosis
Vince ("Harpo") - no diagnosis, symptoms are hallucinated and no actual prognosis of the patient is ever established

Season 3

Richard McNeil - Cushing's disease, Caren Krause - Scurvy
Clancy Green - Chimerism
Ezra Powell - Amyloidosis, subtype AA
Adam - Roundworm infection
Jeremy and Tracy - Hereditary angioedema
George Hagel - Metastatic lung cancer
Kyle Wozniak - Ragged red fiber
Jack Walters - Chronic granulomatosis
Alice Hartman - Congenital Erthropoetic Porphyria ("allergy" to light)
Abigail - Pituitary Tumor and Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis
Derek Hoyt - Spinal meningioma (Author's Note: at first, this was wrongly assumed to be Takatsubo Cardiomyopathy - more commonly known as "Broken Heart Syndrome", which, incidentally, was a diagnosis in the episode "My House" of Scrubs, which saluted the brilliance of House as a television show)
Eve - not really a patient...in fact, there were no true patients for House this week, just clinic idiots
Stevie Lipa - Perforated intestine (he swallowed a toothpick)
Hannah Morganthal - Congenital Insensitivity to Pain and Anhidrosis, Tapeworm infection, B-12 deficiency
Patrick Obyedkov - Takayasu syndrome, right lobe of his brain is essentially dead

And this is the patient list up to the most recent episode as of 20 March 2007.

As for the other material, it's interesting to see how Foreman is again being painted as a sort of House-in-Training as shown by...
  • During the episode "Insensitive" (3.13), Stevie comments on how Foreman is single and never seems to have time for a family (much like House);
  • At the end of season 2, prior to House being shot, Foreman plans on simply walking out of the hospital to go see a movie (instead of working);
  • And...I ran out of steam, so I'll merely point out that Foreman increasingly starts to take more unethical paths in the course of treatment starting around the late-middle of Season 2. More importantly, I'm a tad tired.

I'll slowly start to catch up on the meanings of the titles of the episodes, and I may work backwards as those episodes are a bit more fresh in my head.

Long Overdue...

I have finally decided to get around to at least fulfilling some of the promises concerning content of this blog and will list all of the illnesses of all the patients throughout all three seasons of House, M.D.

Season 1

Rebecca Adler - Neurocysticercosis
Dan ??? - Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis
Brandon Merrell - Colchicine poisoning
Hartig, Chen-Lupino (deceased), and two other babies - Echovirus 11
Sister Mary Augustine - Copper allergy caused by IUD (intrauterine device) - the copper cross
Lucy Palmeiro - Wilson's Disease
Elyse Snow - Human African Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness)
Matt Davis, Chi Ling - Phosmat poisoning (organophosphate)
John Henry Giles - Arteriovenous malformation
Victoria Madsen (deceased) - Rabies
Keith Foster - Napthalene poisoning
Pitcher Hank Wiggen - Cadmium poisoning
Gabe and Jeffery Reilich - Leprosy
Carly Forlano - Congestive heart failure caused by ipecac overuse (bulimia)
Joey Arnello - Ornithine Transcarbamylase Deficiency
Jessica Simms - Cushing's syndrome
Senator Gary H. Wright - Common variable immunodeficiency disease (Epstein-Barr virus in conjunction with stress and childhood use of phenytoin [Dilantin] for epilepsy)
Naomi Randolph (deceased - complications during emergency Caesarean section) - Small cell lung cancer (presented with Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome - a paraneoplastic syndrome)
Mary Carroll - Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (pregnancy risk factor for secondary TTP)
Harvey Park - Fulminating osteomyelitis

(The episode "Three Stories" has [by a matter of simple logic] three patients with three seperate diagnoses; all the patients have to deal with the potential loss of a portion of their leg.)

Farmer - streptococcus infection (flesh-eating disease/necrotizing fasciitis); opts for amputation
Volleyball Player - Osteosarcoma in the femur; opts for amputation
Middle-aged Man (House) - infarction and muscle death; refuses amputation and muscle is removed from leg as a middle ground

Mark Warner - Acute Intermittent Porphyria

Season 2

Clarence - Pheochromocytoma
Andie - Clot in the brain (Foreman points it out: "4 millimeters lateral of the hippocampus"), terminal patient (Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma)
Alfredo - Psittacosis infection; amputation of right hand required
Dr. Sebastian Charles - Nesidioblastoma
Carnell Hall (assumed deceased) - Cavernous angioma in spinal cord, caused by radiation poisoning
Cyclist Jeff Hastert - Thymoma presenting Pure Red Cell Aplasia and Myasthenia gravis
Michael and Kalvin Ryan - Echinococcosis
Kayla (deceased) - Behcet's Disease, perforated ulcer caused by excessive use of ibuprofin, liver failure, hematoma from portion of liver donated by brother (Author's Note: should another patient EVER have so many damn things go wrong with them I may just skip them)

And on that Author's Note, I am finished for now...these are all the patients from the pilot episode to episode 8 of season 2 ("The Mistake"). I will pick up with the following episode, "Deception."

18 August 2006

Very long overdue apology

I am very sorry that I have not updated in a while...to be honest, House needs to start season 3 before I can be in the mood to write regularly.

But fear not! That day is soon approaching being only 18 days away!

Work, school, bunch of crap, the usual, but all will return to normal eventually.

08 June 2006


Sorry for the long hiatus in blogs here. Just been kinda busy with work, appointments, sleep, driving around, etc.

Wanted to assure anyone who reads this blog that I am alive and well, and I'll try to have a new entry sometime this weekend. Don't hold me too tightly to that schedule as something may come up.

14 May 2006

Evolution is real! Foreman -> House

I'm going to jump between episode title meanings and Foreman's similarities to House...and I promise that I'll start the list of common diagnoses used throughout Seasons 1 and 2 (and eventually 3, hopefully 4, etc.) as well as my take on the clinic patients.

Fifth episode of season 1 is entitled "Damned if You Do". It's mentioned in passing by Chase as House takes the case back from Cuddy:

House: Yes, she did. Well done. [Cameron smiles.] But your unwillingness to stick by your diagnosis almost killed this woman. [No more smiles.] Take a lesson from Foreman: stand up for what you believe. Okay, let’s go figure out how to save a nun. [He leaves.]

Chase: Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

This quotation isn't just the source of the title; it's also the first indication that House and Foreman are very much alike. In a sense, Foreman is both House's opposite and House's protege of sorts. Initially, it shows through each doctor's willingness to stick by what they think is the right diagnosis or treatment and advocate for their patient. The similarities become even more dramatic later on, but for now, I'll focus on the episodes as I go.

Another interpretation of "Damned if You Do" applies to House himself. Early on, he (incorrectly) cites a Circle of Hell from Dante, which repeats itself at the conclusion of the episode; furthermore, House declares that faith is irrational, which Wilson later points out to House in terms of his fate in the afterlife:

Wilson: You do realize if you're wrong, about the big picture that is, you're going to burn, right?

House: What do you want me to do? Accept it, pack it in?

Wilson: Yeah. I want you to accept that sometimes patients die against all reason. Sometimes they get better against all reason.

House: No, they don’t. We just don’t know the reason.

Wilson: I don’t think the nuns would agree with you on that

In a sense, House is damned if he does reconsider the big picture (he's afraid he might lose his brilliance) and damned if he doesn't (going to Hell). Again, this can apply to House's "doppleganger", Foreman, who tells Cuddy about the hyperbaric oxygen treatment. He's damned if he tells, bringing House's ire upon himself, and he's damned if he doesn't, since he'll be violating what he feels is an ethical responsibility to treat the patient solely on what they can prove.

This really is the first direct connection made between these two, and while it seems to place them on opposite sides of the ethical spectrum, it shows how these two are both excellent doctors with the same goals of solving the patients' cases and disregarding higher authorities in the hospital to do so.

It's very interesting how well the writers scripted "The Socratic Method". Socrates advocated dialogue between a wise mentor and the inquisitive student as a means of learning, which House mentions in his conversation with Wilson:

HOUSE: If it wasn’t for Socrates, that raving untreated schizophrenic, we wouldn’t have the Socratic method – the best way of teaching everything, apart from juggling chainsaws. Without Isaac Newton, we’d be floating on the ceiling.

WILSON: Dodging chainsaws, no doubt.

HOUSE: And that guitar player in that English band – he was great. [ stopping at Lucy’s room ] You think I’m interested because of the schizophrenia.

Even the final diagnosis of Wilson's disease is a result of the Socratic Method; rather than House who comes up with the diagnosis, it is Cameron who comes up with Wilson's, as House subtlely led his team towards the final answer, through an analysis of the evidence and symptoms and asking questions of his team.

The first four episodes

To be honest, I can't find a terribly large amount of meaning in the early episode titles that can be inferred and plays itself out throughout the episode.

The first episode, so eloquently entitled "Pilot", is basically that: a pilot episode, not just of the premise and format of the show, but the rich character development possibilities which seem to hook the viewer. If you are interested in a deeper analysis of the episode itself, it's at the House MD Beyond the Script blog at housemd-guide.com.

I really can't say much about "Paternity" in terms of a hidden meaning for a title. The paternity of the patient's father is in question and ultimately turns out to be the key to the case. One might consider this to be a bit of foreshadowing about the use of father figures in the later episodes, like Dr. Rowan Chase, House's father, and all the other fathers I will not list here, but it's a bit of a stretch to even consider that.

"Occam's Razor" is personally one of the best titles for an episode, simply out of my old habit of citing it randomly during conversation and humiliating people with my simple logic. The principal is stated aloud in the episode and later refined by House, who says that "the simplest explanation is almost always somebody screwed up." With that idea in mind, taken in conjunction with House's maxim of "everyone lies", you can easily see how this episode's title seems far more predictive than the previous episode.

I'd have to say that "Maternity" seems to be the richest of the titles so far, in terms of double-meaning. For the blatantly obvious, the case is with babies located in the maternity ward at Princeton-Plainsboro and the epidemic spread throughout. Yet a deeper medical meaning may be seen by noticing that the diagnosis ultimately depended on the maternity of the babies: the sick babies lacked the antibodies from the enterovirus that the healthy babies received from their mothers. A further possibility is that House points out that Cuddy is the hospital's "mother", and that if her "baby" (the hospital) is sick, Cuddy goes into adrenaline panic mode. It's excellent foreshadowing of a continuation of conflict between Cuddy and House regarding the ethical and legal problems his maverick style of diagnostics create. On one last far-fetched note, the "mother" analogy for Cuddy may unintentionally become quite literal as recent episodes have suggested.

Next up, a few more bits of analysis and the start of how Foreman might just end up like Dr. House.

A short hello from the author

Hello House fans, and their loved ones. In the interest of saving time and a lot of boring chit-chat later, I'm Paul. You can call me Paul.

I am one of the several bloggers at House, M.D. Guide (www.housemd-guide.com) and am the only one forced to do this due to BOREDOM.

In short, this blog will cover the meanings of the titles and how they are reflected in the ethics or office dynamics in the episode, the patients' names and their illnesses, the diagnoses that are used repeatedly throughout the seasons, and the growing similarities between Foreman and House.

I will post the list of patient names and their illnesses sometime after the season finale, and also do title analysis of the first three or four episodes in the next few days, as their titles lack the double-entendres of some of the later ones.

Welcome, Paul - the editors of House MD Guide

We look forward to seeing your postings on the meanings of various things on the House MD show.