Sunday, December 14, 2008
"Let them eat cake"
Since I am unable to watch House during the week, I like to watch the reruns on the weekends. Some of the cases are quite fascinating. The one I watched last night was from a few weeks ago, titled "Let them eat cake."
In this episode, a personal trainer comes in after she has collapsed from a fitness infomercial shoot. As usual, House and his assistants go through a battery of tests to figure out the right diagnosis. They wound up scanning her for a tumor and realized that she had gastric bypass surgery since her stomach was stapled. Some of the assistants ask her about the ethics of her career choice as a fitness trainer yet having medical intervention. She replies with that she is helping her clients to get healthy as she did once she had the surgery.
Anyway, this post isn't geared towards the contradiction of her career choice and previous lifestyle. This post is about what happens at the end of the show. After many tests, House finally makes a diagnosis of hereditary coproporphyia, a condition in which the liver lacks an enzyme that interrupts heme production. There is no cure for the condition, however, the treatment protocol is to reverse the gastric bypass surgery and implement a diet high in carbohydrate and sugar.
When House tells the patient, there is a look of mortification with her pleading for another way. The only other thing was medications for pain control. In the end, she chose the medication, and refused the surgery. House's final statement is, "Most people don't have the guts to admit they'd rather be pretty than healthy."
Now, I think that statement is slightly shallow, but I do get the point he is making. For this patient, having the bypass surgery helped transform her life so that she wound up living a healthier lifestyle. Therefore, I'm sure she felt like if she reversed the surgery, it would all be for nothing, or there was a fear she would regain all the weight lost, or simply unsure she could trust herself.
If I was in that position, I'm not sure what I would have done. I'd like to think that the "healthy" rationale would win out, but would it really? If you were placed in a medical situation of being thin or healthy (excluding weight restoration), which would you choose? What if your diet had to drastically change to all your fear foods, how would you react?
Transcript for episode