House S07EP21 “The Fix”
As the seventh season winds down, so does the Spring semester of BIO230. On this week’s episode, a rift comes between House and Wilson when they bet on a boxing match and each thinks that they’ve won. House enlists the help of the pugilist to prove his case, but gets more than he bargained for in the exchange. I’m guessing blunt force trauma to the head. House’s team suspects that he’s got another drug problem as a result. We’ll have more details, and find out if House is Wilson’s million dollar baby on Monday night at 8!
This episode left me feeling just a bit “meh.” I’m enjoying the House/Wilson interactions; Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard always seem like they have a lot of fun working with each other. The reset of the episode felt just a bit muddled. This episode brought us some House/Wilson hijinks, and three medical mysteries to figure out. The first plotline gave us a young physicist, Wendy Lee, who has a seizure when her ‘million dollar baby’ (an air to ground missile) takes out a target. House loses the bet indicated up above in the recap when his boxer takes one on the chin when he shouldn’t have. So while House’s team is trying to figure out why the physicist is getting worse and worse, House is trying to figure out why his boxer has lost the past 5 matches against opponents who are inferior. And finally, House becomes a patient himself in a clinical trial that made me cringe just watching it.
So let’s look at our plotlines one at a time. Ms. Lee apparently has some enemies, as the initial scene with a former boyfriend taping her picture onto the missile target makes clear. She is admitted to the hospital after seizing, but has progressive symptoms including multiple bleeds, severe abdominal pain, cardiac arrhythmia, blistering and bleeding from the gums, all of which lead the team to a diagnosis of severe radiation poisoning. However, she actually turned out to have been repeatedly poisoned by cantharidin by her jealous boyfriend. He confesses, goes to jail, and the case is solved.
Our boxer, Foley, doesn’t think he’s sick at all, but just thinks he’s a washed up boxer down on his luck. House knows otherwise, and keeps looking for signs and symptoms until he comes up with the diagnosis. Foley had a glomus tumor on the back of the neck, which presented as a sensitive abnormal growth of nerves. House tests his theory by gently tapping Foley on the back of the neck with his cane, and Foley drops like a sack of potatoes. Treatment was resection of the tumor with an anticipated full recovery.
Finally, House makes a friend in a research lab, who is testing Compound CS-804 on lab rats. The rats are showing 12% increase in strength, 22% increase in flexibility, and at least 60% improvement in all of the rats. Pretty good for something that apparently has no side effects, mainly because it is very easily excreted by the kidneys before it can have toxic side effects. House takes the drug via I.V. injection, which of course looks like he is on heroin. He appears to be showing incredible improvement in his damaged as the plot develops, however we see at the end that all of the lab rats have died. Always remember Singleton’s pharmacological maxim: “every drug has two effects; the one you know about, and the one you don’t know about.”
The first two stories were probably difficult to guess from the signs and symptoms as presented. We knew that Wendy Lee had relationship issues as the episode developed, but to guess the type of poison would be tough without a toxicology screen. Foley’s diagnosis seemed reasonable, but again since he didn’t go in for an MRI or other diagnostic imaging, tough to guess. I did have a problem with the House drug plot though. Besides being stupid, I also thought that it was unlikely and poor science. First, the drug was reported as excreted very easily in the urine, so House was drinking extra water (they made a point of showing that) to reduce toxicity issues. The extra water will defeat the purpose of taking more of the drug. Second, if the drug is going to stimulate muscle development, I.V. injection is not going to be the best way to deliver the drug to that body site. Intramuscular injection would be far more effective, and would likely allow much lower levels (and safer!) levels to be accomplished. I’m going to have to rate this episode with the dreaded ‘bogus’ tag.