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Member No.: 227
Joined: 30-December 05
Wow, it just gets better with each chapter. I'm really humbled by your talent.
I still really can't say anything other than amazing. I really like your original character too. Definitely sympathetic, and what House needs right now, but definitely not a "marysue" at all.
One cat just leads to another-- Ernest Hemingway
Here’s how to become a great artist. First, get miserable. Misery drives you to become a great artist, but the art does nothing for your misery,
--Greg House, MD (Episode 2:23, Who's Your Daddy?)
Member No.: 22
Joined: 9-February 05
sasmom, this is really magnificent! Intense, moody, with beautiful insights into what House must have gone through before and after the ketamine failed. The pace is just right. You evoke a palapable sense of exhaustion, with House just trying to cope with what he is feeling.
And Catherine is not a Mary Sue! Woo Hoo! Not that I thought you would write such a derivative character, but how many times does one read a story which focuses mainly on House and an original female character, and the OFC is not a Mary Sue? Catherine is likable and professional, and she comes across as real. Mary Sue would totally have gone up to the roof with House, and they would have held hands, and . . . ugh! Catherine, on the other hand, made a reasonable risk assessment. Good for her!
Member No.: 379
Joined: 3-September 06
|QUOTE (Armchair Elvis @ Dec 29 2006, 03:57 AM)|
|QUOTE (HouseFan43ver @ Dec 29 2006, 01:24 PM)|
| this is amazing writing!! I don't know anything about opiate detox but I do know something about heroin detox, I'm assuming they're similar. You're doing a great job dealing with House' reactions during the detox..all his pain, physical, emotional, mental, physchological etc. very well written! I'm headed off for my short holiday and will be back next week I can't wait to read more Keep up the great work!! |
God and peace
You're right in assuming that they're similar, HouseFan. Heroin is an opiate, but to put it in the same class as what House takes in terms of detox you'd have to term it an opiod
. Wikipedia articles on heroin, and opium-derived products are can be found here: heroin
. Information on the class of drugs can be found here: Opiod
. Because heroin and oxy/hydrocodone act on the same general region of the brain and are metabolised in a similar way by the body, rehab is very similar. Oxycodone is synthesised from thebaine, and Hydrocodone is synthesised from thebaine and codiene, which is very similar in chemical makeup to oxycodone. Heroine is a semi-synthetic derivative of the opium plant, and thebaine and codeine are direct derivatives. So all three of the substances are semi-synthetic opioids. Methadone, often used to treat heroin addiction (and chronic pain under some jurisdictions) is a synthetic opiod.
Hmm, sorry to rave on so. I love the fic, Sasmom.
Thanks for explaining that. Job well done
I do apprecaite it!
God and peace
Member No.: 264
Joined: 12-February 06
New Year’s Day is for playing touch football (if the weather is nice) and watching college football on television. House had always preferred the former to the latter; until circumstance made only the latter possible. This year, his alma mater was in the Rose Bowl. Any other year, he would have cared; would have put money (a lot of money) on the outcome; would have been eating pizza and downing Sam Adams with Wilson. Not this year.
He could hear the shouts and catcalls coming from the TV lounge as voices far, far away. House stared at the ceiling, mindlessly counting the holes in the acoustic tile. He was up to 7,405 before a particularly loud yell distracted him and made him lose count. About to begin again, this for the third time, he heard a soft knock on the door.
He reckoned that it couldn’t yet be time for another group therapy session (oh, please, not that). It had only been a few hours. He was supposed to attend two each day, and, at this point, wasn’t sure he would survive the first day without breaking the facilitator’s neck. Or his own. He really didn’t care which.
House was more convinced than ever that he did not belong here: in rehab. They’d placed him in a group with other chronic pain patients who had developed an “unhealthy relationship with their meds.” He noted that three of the men in the group had probably not been properly diagnosed and still had underlying physical issues that had never been addressed. One was dying of cancer: and what the Hell made him want to spend time in this place when he had only months to live? Give the man his drugs and let him die in peace, for Chrissakes, he had thought as he droned on about wanting to be “clean” before going “home.” Marijuana. And lots of it, that what House would prescribe for that one. Wilson would too, he thought. Better not be one of Wilson’s patients.
But House had been good, as he had promised Harrington. He’d kept his mouth shut and simply observed. It had even been an amusing parlor game for about 15 minutes. Until the facilitator asked House if he wanted to introduce himself. Great. This hadn’t been part of the bargain. “Not at this time,” had been his curt reply.
“You don’t have to give your last name. Just a first.”
“No. Really. Thanks just the same,” he responded politely, if edgily. He just wasn’t ready to do this again. Even if it meant getting outside for a few minutes.
“House?” Cuddy. “You up to a visitor? Dr. Harrington said it was…”
“As long as you didn’t bring the kiddies,” House sighed, trying to not sound as sullen as he felt.
“I brought you a couple of presents.”
“Oh goody. Bring me a file in a cake?”
“This isn’t a jail.”
“Effect is the same.”
“You’re not locked up. Not yet.” She tried to sound light, forgetting for the moment truth to her quip. “Sorry.” He observed her intently for several minutes as she set the bag down on his bedside table. He sat up on the edge of the bed, grimacing at the pain.
“You even allowed to do that? Bring me stuff? They might think it’s cocaine; a little grass…”
“Being the Dean of Medicine has its privileges.” She handed him the bag. House withdrew his enormous red and white tennis ball.
“Thank you,” he choked out, not knowing why her bringing a ball had made him so suddenly emotional. He rose from his perch on the bed, walking with some difficulty, finally resting his head against the far wall, away from her sight.
She had also brought the small pink stress ball. “Figured you could use it now.”
“Who me? I’m the epitome of laid-backness. I’m… You lost the baby.” His tone was quiet, gentle. He had finally figured out what was different about her. She had only been five or six weeks along, but he had known; had guessed—and now…
“I’m not pregnant.”
“But you were.” Now it was her turn to hide from him.
“I would have made a lousy mom.”
“I thought you never lie,” she snarked. She gave him points for trying.
“I’m sorry about that, too.”
“That part of the rehab program: apologize to everyone for everything? You were honest.”
“I was in pain. I was…”
“I know you were hurting. I know you still are.” House sighed. He couldn’t look at her, not in her eyes. Not the way he was feeling right now. She had a way of cutting through his defenses, and right now his defenses were in serious need of reinforcement. If he let her into his eyes, he was sure he would fall apart.
“Do you want to see any of your team? Wilson? Harrington thinks it would be OK; a good idea, even.”
“No. I…I’m not really…I don’t want…”
“Wilson really wants to see you. You freaked him out Christmas Eve. You scared the Hell out of all of us. But Wilson…”
“Yeah. He left me laying half conscious on my living room floor.”
“He was scared.”
“He was pissed-off.”
“Why? I wasn’t the one who betrayed him? Sent him to jail…”
“No, but you stole his patient’s pills and then tried to off yourself with them. Any symbolism there?”
“I really don’t think I can handle Wilson’s pyschobabble right now. I get plenty of that around here without his piled on.”
“Fine. If you’re not ready…”
“I’m not.” Cuddy sighed. She knew she was being impatient with him, but she bled for him inside; wanted him healed. Needed him back.
“How’s the leg?”
“Just dandy. Ready to join the PPTH Rehab bowling team. Ordered the shirt and everything.”
“Have they figured out a new treatment plan for you?”
“Not yet.” He blew out a breath, feeling that he’d just run through a minefield. “With the holidays…the tests… They put me on Ultram for now, but they’re still futzing with the dosage. I keep telling them, I’d be fine with Vicodin, but they just won’t listen….”
Cuddy smiled. “You look tired, I’ll let you get some rest.” She stood in front of him. He looked miserable and just sad. It took every ounce of will power to not offer him a hug. But he would take it wrong, seeing it as pity; hating her for it. She reached out and touched his hand, hoping that he would allow at least that. Feeling no resistance, she gripped his hand in hers, stroking it with her thumb. She saw that he had closed his eyes.
“I miscarried at six weeks. Two weeks ago.” It had been just before he had said those words to her. He had meant them then. He regretted them now. House nodded.
“You can try it again.”
“Now who’s spouting platitudes? No. I don’t think it’s really meant to be. Who am I kidding?”
“You’d probably be a great mom. Look how great you yell at me? You’d be the envy of all the other moms.” Cuddy smiled at his quip and let go of his hand.
“Yeah. Right,” she guffawed. And left it at that.
An attendant brushed past Cuddy as she was leaving. “Time for Group, Dr. House.” He sighed dramatically. Was this never going to end?
Member No.: 264
Joined: 12-February 06
“How’s the pain this morning, Dr. House? Can you give me a pain-scale number?” House scanned her face and then away, not responding. He was clearly upset, angry. About something.
“You look rested,” he snorted derisively.
“Amazing what a day off will do.” Catherine tried to keep it light; take the comment at face value. But she knew that it wasn’t what he was really asking her.
“Great. Well, I did my two group therapy sessions. All better now. Ready to go home. I am healed. Wonder why I had never thought of doing this before.”
“’Did’ is a bit too strong a word. ‘Quietly sulked’ was the description used by the facilitator.”
“You told me I didn’t have to say anything. Just observe. I did that. I observed that it’s a total waste of time. Roof.”
“I didn’t forget. We can do that later. Even now, if you want. So, back to my original question.” Catherine wondered if he was so upset because she hadn’t been there yesterday. Had he wanted to talk? He had her phone number. He knew that he could call any time of the day. Even if she wasn’t at the hospital. Her momentary concern about lost opportunities vanished as she assured herself that House would not have been itching to “talk” after his group therapy session.
“It’s bad enough.”
“Care to give that a number?”
“Eight. Your miracle drug isn’t working, Dr. Harrington.”
“We need to…”
“I want to leave.”
“OK…You want to leave. I’m not surprised that…”
“No. You don’t understand. I’m done. I’ve heard enough platitudes about higher powers, and powerlessness to make me depressed for a lifetime.”
“Did you actually listen? Joe told me you weren’t actually paying much attention.”
“Want me to quote the entire hour’s dialogue?” He probably could, he thought, with only mild improvisation.
“I can’t force you to attend group therapy. You’re here voluntarily. You don’t seem especially open to the idea anyway, so…”
“Will it stop you from checking yourself out AMA? Anyway, if you do that, your pain won’t be treated either and…”
“I know how to treat my pain. I’m a doctor.”
“And a great one, as I understand it.” They seemed to be going round in circles. Catherine sighed in frustration. “Vicodin wasn’t working for you. You’ve already admitted that.”
“That was before…that was last spring. I was fine until my so-called friends decided to try some ‘tough love’.”
“They were concerned. I think their concerns might have been justified, given…” Despite the bitterness, House seemed less agitated than he had when Catherine first came in. Another tack. “We have a meeting with Kwan later. He wants to propose a treatment plan for your pain.
“Neurontin. The wonder drug of the 21st century. Tried it. Didn’t work very well.”
“Did he tell you that? Or do you just know. I thought your certifications were in nephrology and ID. When did you add Anesthesiology to your shingle?” For whatever reason, her retort seemed to disarm him. “You were pretty upset when I came in before. Why?” House shrugged. He mindlessly picked up the pink stress ball, massaging in his right hand for a minute before letting it drop to the floor. He wasn’t sure himself. Not really.
“I don’t belong in here.”
“You checked yourself in. This was your idea. And I think it was the right move. But we’ve been through this. Why did you decide to do this?”
“I love ping pong.” She wasn’t biting. “Impulse. My lawyer told me it was a good idea…”
“But he probably told you that weeks ago. Why now? Something must’ve happened…” Catherine didn’t want to push too hard, but she felt they were on the brink of something.
“Christmas Eve happened.” He’d said it so quietly that she’d almost missed it. “Christmas fucking Eve.” His voice was ragged. He turned his eyes to the ceiling before moving to the window. He stared out at the snow.
“What happened?” She ventured. “Just tell me chronologically. Everything that happened.” Her voice was nearly as quiet as his.
“It doesn’t matter.”
“That’s not being fair to Cuddy. Or Wilson. Or your team, for that matter. Something told you that it couldn’t go on like it had been.”
“Wilson found me half dead on my living room floor. I’d taken the whole damn bottle. All of it.”
“Thirty. Oxy with a whiskey chaser. Not just a chaser but half a bottle.” She almost had the sense that he was remembering it for the first time. He wasn’t really talking to her. More to himself. “I kept thinking that it wasn’t right. So many pills. It was too many. I knew that, but I couldn’t…”
“You had been detoxing from the Vicodin for how many days at that point?”
“Two.” He had almost forgotten she was standing there. He jumped slightly at the interruption.
“So the narcotics were almost out of your system, then you added 30 oxycodone right back in. Were you aware of what you were doing?”
He laughed ruefully. “You might say that. But only to a degree.”
“You were aware of the danger.” A statement.
“Yes.” His voice was unsteady.
“The obvious question, which you won’t ask me, is ‘was there intent’? Did I mean to pull the trigger with a loaded gun pointed to my head? Or was I simply out of control? Or in so much pain that I took all those pills to simply not feel? Anything.”
“Dr. Cuddy told me that you had phoned your mother.”
“I’m a good son. It was Christmas Eve. Isn’t that what I was supposed to do? Call home? Reach out and touch someone?” His defensive line was reforming. This was all he was going to disclose for now. His back was still to her, still staring out the window. “I called…I called to hear her voice. I needed to hear her voice. I just did. I… I couldn’t bring myself to say ‘goodbye.’”
“Did you want to?”
“At that moment…..? Yes. I just wanted it to be over.” Another laugh, this time derisive. “God, I sound like a drama queen.”
“You sound like someone who was at the end of their emotional rope. Complete emotional meltdown.”
“You might say that.”
“Was that the first time?”
“That I was…? No. No, it wasn’t.” It was a difficult admission. House heaved a heavy sigh. Catherine realized that he wouldn’t want her looking at his face; his eyes, right at that moment. She knew the session was over, anyway.
“Dr. House. I’ll be right back. We’ll go see Kwan.” She threw a box of tissues on the chair near the window and left the room.
House turned back to the room as Catherine exited, pointedly ignoring the tissue box. He hadn’t wept; hadn’t shed one tear. At least there was that infinitesimal slice of his dignity intact.
Catherine returned a couple of moments later. “Do you think you can manage being out on the rooftop in the snow? They’re predicting 10 inches.”
“It’s never 10 inches when they predict 10 inches. Won’t be more than 2 at the most.” He seemed in better spirits than when she’d left. At least he was covering better.
“Ready to see Kwan?”
“Anything to get me off this useless pill. Ultram. The only thing ‘ultra’ about is how ‘ultra’-ineffective it is.”
“I want to start you on a protocol of gabapentin…” House shot Catherine a look. Told ya. “…well start tomorrow at 300 mg and build gradually over the next few days while you’re weaned off the Ultram beginning today.. By day four you’ll be on be on 3 dosages of 400 mg. House looked at him defeated. “I’ve tried neurontin. It doesn’t work.”
“If it’s not enough we can supplement with other meds after we get the dosage as close as we can to maximize the pain relief.. It’s a little trial an error, given your circumstances…” he said somewhat defensively.
“But while you’re figuring that out, I’m the one who’s…forget it. Look. I’ve tried all this stuff. I’m surprised you didn’t start with Ketaprofen.”
“It could work. It has some effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory in CRPS, but I think this is a better alternative for you. You may still need to be on some type of opoid therapy, but we need to see where the gabapentin will take us. Dr. Harrington can work with you on some alternatives for non-chemical pain relief while we’re adjusting your meds. I take it you know the side effects possible on the drug. But if you want me to go through them…”
“Dizziness. Looking forward to that one. The one thing I really need is more unsteadiness on my feet. Oh yeah, and tremors. I was beginning to miss those. Haven’t had those in 12 hours or so. And those are only two of the great side benefits to Neurontin therapy.”
House made a show of striding away from Catherine as soon as they left Kwan’s office. He had momentarily forgotten the pain, supplanted by righteous indignation. She would have to remember that.
“So you want to visit that rooftop?” she called as he reached the elevator.
“Yeah. Better do it now before the waves of dizziness overcome me. It would be dangerous up there. Might fall off. Topple to my death. Look bad to the board and all that.”
“Let’s go then. Before we start you on the gabapentin.”
Member No.: 264
Joined: 12-February 06
“Why the rooftop?” It was a logical question, Catherine thought. It had been a struggle to get up there from the moment they left the unit. House hadn’t wanted to see, or be seen, by anyone he knew well. So they had taken the scenic route: down to the basement to a back cargo elevator and up to the eighth floor. House was pretty exhausted by the time they’d reached the short stairwell to the roof, and Catherine wondered how he would manage the 7 step climb.
House’s gait had gotten less and less steady as he leaned progressively more heavily on his cane. She briefly cursed herself for not suggesting they use a wheel chair. But she was fairly certain that House would have, not so politely, refused.
“I haven’t been outside for over a week. I want to feel the fresh air tickle my cheeks and frost my nose. And, you know, the snowflakes, I just love when they accumulate on my eyelashes. It just feels oh so good.” As if he would give her a direct and straight reply. They had otherwise made the trip thus far in silence. Standing at the base of the staircase, House hesitated.
“Do you need some help?”
“Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. I don’t…” He stared up at the stairs, almost longingly, it seemed to Catherine. It was clear that he wouldn’t make it up there under his own steam and he knew it; he was unlikely to accept her help. She waited, hanging back at the bottom of the flight as he tested the first step. She knew this would be both difficult and painful—and humiliating, knowing House, so she allowed him a bit of privacy in his efforts.
He’d gotten three steps when he collapsed onto the stair, using the railing to break his fall. He sat on the fourth step, gripping his leg and breathing hard with exertion. “Damn it. I can’t even…” He slammed the cane into the stairs in frustration. He looked up remembering that Catherine was there. “Welcome to my world,” he spat out, glaring at her before looking away. “Do you like what you see?”
“I think you spend a lot of energy trying very hard to NOT let anyone ‘see.’”
“What would be the point?” His breathing was less labored, but he was clearly still in agony.
“Pity. That’s almost worse than…this.” He let go of the railing long enough to gesture to his leg, before gripping it again.
“People do want to help.”
“I don’t need any help. Look what ‘help’ has accomplished. Well meaning idiots creating more problems than they solve.”
“Is Wilson an idiot? Cuddy?”
“About this? Yes.”
“But they’re working with bad information, aren’t they? You don’t let them understand. You don’t let them ‘see’.”
“They see enough.”
“They see you’re in pain, but they can’t tell the difference between the leg and what you carry around inside. They can’t do a proper differential.”
“Spare me…I’m not asking them to diagnose me. I know the diagnosis. The diagnosis was made years ago. As far as I know, it hasn’t changed. I don’t need their help. Other people’s ‘help’ cost me half a leg and half a lifetime.” He stopped, realizing how agitated he must sound to her.
“The Ketamine was a way out. A way to get my life back.” He was suddenly calm. He sounded almost wistful, defeated.
“She was gone. I sent her back to her husband.”
“But she still loved you.”
“Maybe. But it wasn’t about Stacy. Not entirely.”
“No. I knew that it was over. Finally.” House paused, carefully considering before he continued. “When the pain…when the Ketamine stopped…” House’s voice wavered; his words were halting. He paused again, this time for nearly a minute. Catherine said nothing, sitting on the bottom step quietly. Waiting for him. She knew how terribly, terribly difficult this was for him. House began again.
“When the treatment began to fail…” House’s tone sounded different, as if he were talking about a patient and not himself: dispassionate. “…I went to Wilson. He dismissed the pain as the result of overexertion. Except it wasn’t. I’d been in physio for three months—two of those intense and demanding physical rehab. Running, lifting, more running. I was up to eight miles a day. For Wilson to dismiss it as ‘getting old’ was a bad diagnosis. He accused me…He suggested that I wouldn’t know what muscle overexertion would feel like because I’d medicated myself to the gills on Vicodin for years and I wouldn’t know a muscle cramp if…”
“Did he really say that?’
“Not in so many words, but…yes.” House sounded annoyed at the challenge.
“Was he wrong?”
“Clearly he was wrong. As far as muscle soreness, he had no idea what the first three weeks of physio were like. Believe me, I knew muscle soreness.”
“So what did you do?” House looked at her warily.
“I panicked.” He smiled slightly, sheepishly. She arched an eyebrow at the admission. “I had been without significant pain for two and half months post-op. Now, suddenly...” She knew the rest of that story. The scrip blanks, the beginning of it all becoming unraveled for House.
“Wilson is your best friend, right?”
“Not lately.” He looked better, breathing back to normal. She thought he had disclosed a lot. Maybe a break was in order.
“Do you want to try going the rest of the way to the roof? I think if you loop your arm around my shoulder so you don’t have to put weight on your right leg…it’s only four more steps. Think you can make it?” House nodded resignedly.
“I’m sorry about the pain. But until we get the meds right and the dosages adjusted…”
“Gee, wait, it’s coming to me…what would work…let me think…begins with a V…” She was actually delighted to hear the sarcasm slip back into his voice.
“You know that’s not an option. We may end up having to put you on a narcotic to supplement. Either a something time released or an infusion pump. That’s up to Kwan, with your input. Maybe morphine, maybe something else. But until we see if the Neurontin works, you’ll have to be…” They’d made two of the four steps while Catherine was talking. House put his hand on the wall of the stairwell, halting her.
“Yeah. Right,” he breathed. A short break for House to gather his strength.
“Two more steps. Well, we could try some non-pharmacological things: relaxation, biofeedback, massage. Any or all of those might help…”
“Been there, done that.” They were finally at the top of the flight. House leaned his back heavily against the wall, resisting the urge to slide down and sit on the floor. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to get up again.
“This better not be locked or we’re in a lot of trouble,.” She said. Catherine tried the door. It opened.
“Emergency exit to the roof. It can’t be locked. Against fire regs.”
“Ah. Ready?” Again he nodded.
The roof was wet, but snow wasn’t accumulating on it. The 32 degree temperatures and the heat of the building conspired against the snow, leaving only a wet slush. But the snow kept falling: giant flakes landed and melted on contact with the warmed cement.
House moved painfully to the short wall surrounding the roof. Leaning against it, he peered out over the city. His gaze was so intense, he almost appeared to be memorizing it, Catherine thought. Although the snowfall obscured much of the skyline.
“So why the roof?” She repeated the question asked much earlier, hoping for a slightly less glib answer. House shrugged noncommittally.
“Guess I wanted a last look.” He seemed subdued, resigned. She didn’t blame him. She found the space highly depressing and gloomy. Maybe that was why he liked it.
“Do you think you might be found guilty?”
“I wouldn’t place any bets on my freedom if I were you.”
“How do you feel about that?” It was a stupid question, and she knew House would see it that way, but she was curious. What was he thinking? Was he thinking about it at all?
“It doesn’t really matter.” He was trying to sound cool.
“How can it not matter?”
“OK. So it does matter. I don’t really want to go to jail. But it’s sorta out of my hands at this point.” He turned away from the wall. “I’d rather not spend my time worrying about things I can’t change.”
“What can you change?”
“Not a goddammed thing. Nothing.” She wondered where the sudden fury originated.
House hadn’t been out on the rooftop for nearly a year. It had been, at one time, a sanctuary for him. A place to think; a place to be alone; to be away from everyone and everything. During the last awful months before Stacy left him, when everyone had friendly advice for him; everybody wanted to “help” him. It was the only place to which he could escape them—and her.
She had certainly known where to find him that night when he had run out of clues regarding her husband’s illness. Stacy’s fury at House’s invasive questioning of Mark both aroused him and made him sad. “Medical screwing. It’s what I do.”
“I don’t know what’s wrong with him,” House had confessed to her. He had ready for her anger; but not for her shattered faith.
“It didn’t occur to me that you wouldn’t be able to figure out what’s wrong with him.” It had been against his better judgment to draw Stacy into his arms, but he could do nothing else. To hold her, then, to feel her leaned against his chest. Needing him. It was an ecstasy and a pain he had nearly forgotten. The longing he had felt at that moment was exquisite.
“So what do we do?” she had asked.
“For something to change. One of the great tragedies of life is that something always changes.” She had broken away from him and taken something of himself with her.
House returned from the memory. The snow had stopped and he stared out at the skyline “The last time I was out here, Wilson tried his psychobabble on me. Now I guess it’s your turn. Take your best shot.”
“What did Wilson say to you? I’ll try not to duplicate his effort.” She deserved that. She had begun sounding like a shrink and House called her on it.
“I had just told Stacy to go back to her husband. Wilson just lost it. Yelled at me about how self-destructive I was being to send Stacy away. That I just loved being miserable; I couldn’t bring myself to be happy. You know, the usual.”
“Why did you send her away?” House thought for a few moments.
“I couldn’t give her what I knew she needed. Her husband could.” His reply was curt and dispassionate. A diagnosis.
“And you knew this because…”
“We’d been there before. It dawned on me that we would be right back where it ended in a matter of a very short time. I couldn’t…” House stopped talking. He walked to the door, wordlessly and went in.
Catherine was drained. She had been half holding her breath the entire time out on the rooftop as House talked. She wondered if he’d ever talked to anyone about any of this before. He hadn’t said that much but even this tiny breakthrough seemed somehow huge. It seemed to keep coming back to Wilson. She needed to get House’s permission to interview him. She had a notion that Wilson had done more damage than good in trying to “help.” Good intentions or not.
Catherine went back into the stairwell. She suddenly realized how cold she was out there. House was sitting at the top of the stair, his head in his hands. “I don’t want to do this,” he said, hearing Catherine come back into the alcove.
“I know. But you need to talk about some of this. To me. To somebody. I’m not so concerned about the drugs. Yes, you used the Vicodin to cope with things other than your physical pain. You wouldn’t be the first, and it doesn’t necessarily make you an addict. Neither do some of the other things you did. Not even stealing the Oxy. Not necessarily.” She sat beside him, not wanting to loom over him.
“You had a serious emotional breakdown on Christmas eve that sends klaxon horns howling through every professional nerve in my body. Whether you intended to hurt yourself and failed; or whether you simply no longer cared and just wanted the pain to go away, it amounted to the same thing. You nearly killed yourself. And without thinking twice about it. The call home to your family suggests to me intent.” House looked up at her, drained; his eyes emotionless.
“At this point, what does it matter? I’m going to jail. For 10 years. My medical license will be revoked. I won’t last a year in jail. I can’t.” His voice was flat and expressionless. Defeated.
“It matters.” She wondered how much of this was rawness left over from his disclosures; how much was the physical pain? How much for effect. With the Ultram dialed down and the Neurontin not yet being administered, he had to be in terrible amount of pain. Yet he hadn’t complained.
“Do I have your permission to speak to Wilson? About your friendship? I won’t if you don’t want me to, but I think it can help me gain some insight.”
“Sure. Fine. Great.” She knew he didn’t mean it, but that he felt somehow powerless to prevent it.
Getting down from the top of the stairs was going to be more difficult than going up—and that was no picnic. But they would take it one small step at a time.
Member No.: 264
Joined: 12-February 06
A/N—I think I was misunderstood when I posted the last chapter. I will not end this either abruptly or unfinished. My thoughts are still to finish in just a couple more chapters---unless there’s more to say after Words and Deeds airs on Tuesday. If House is still in rehab at the end, I may continue. But in either case, I won’t leave it unfinished. I thank everyone who has been encouraging me to continue with this work, and I’m gratified that it’s touched so many people. It’s been fun, but draining, to write!
Of the five Brandenburg concerti written by Bach, the third was Catherine’s favorite. She had made a practice of leaving the piano unlocked at night before she went home, leaving House an open invitation to use it. The adjustment of his medication regimen had been physically and emotionally challenging for him and she thought having free access to the piano might bring him some comfort.
Of course there was the dizziness, leaving him even more unsteady on his feet than he had become. He was alternately sleepy and restless, always drowsy and never getting needed sleep as the pain woke him nearly hourly at night. House had resisted using biofeedback, but had accepted the manipulations of a masseur borrowed from physio. Kwan had upped the gabapentin as much as was safe, and his “normal” pain level still had not gone below a 5 or 6 on the scale. It was still too way too high. They all knew that House would never be pain free, nor had he been even on the high doses of Vicodin. But Kwan had hopes that with the right combination of the chemical and the non-chemical, they might be able to make the pain level very consistently tolerable, with few peaks and valleys.
House was playing the concerto with technical brilliance. Catherine was on-call and was in her office when she heard him take on the difficult piece. The complicated runs and extravagant trills seemed to emerge effortlessly through the piano’s mellow wood. It was when he hesitated for the third time, hitting sour notes on each attempt, that she became concerned.
House’s preliminary hearing was scheduled for the next morning. It was half past two and she was hoping he’d get some rest during the night. But if not that, at least some respite from the torture they were putting him through.
“Hi.” House nodded, his eyes closed. “You OK?” Right question, poorly phrased. “Is it the pain or the dizziness?”
“Dizziness.” Catherine automatically put a steadying hand under his elbow, thinking he would try to stand. House raised a hand, motioning her away. Catherine reckoned that this had to be a particularly bad spell. If they couldn’t get the dizziness under control, this was not going to work for him. He had to be functional. And severe, albeit intermittent, dizziness was a serious impediment to functionality.
A few moments passed and House cautiously stood, pushing back the piano bench, testing. It had been four days since going up on the rooftop, and House hadn’t spoken much since then. A lot of that had to do with his not feeling well under the new meds, she knew. But he seemed to have withdrawn back into himself.
House did not trust easily. He had very good reason not to, given the betrayals in his life. And Catherine suspected that they went further back than the infarction and what she had read about Stacy in his file. He had needed to trust Catherine, coming back off the rooftop, freezing, in anguish, and unable to descend the staircase on his own.
To House, dignity was everything. There was nothing particularly dignified in maneuvering down a stairway one torturous step at a time, draped over a woman half his size. “Thank you,” he had said to her, before looking away, embarrassed and humiliated. Catherine wondered, after all he had disclosed to her, the condition he had been in when he first came under her care and what he had gone through the first week, why now? Why this? And she came to the conclusion that it was about trust and power: giving in to the former and relinquishing the latter.
“You need to get that hearing postponed, Dr. House. There’s no way…You’ll keel over before…”
“Yeah. Great. That will look just wonderful. Defendant requested postponement of hearing because of difficulties in rehab. That’ll get me an acquittal right there. No. I’ll be fine.”
“The problem is with your meds, not you. You’re not ready.” The dizziness seemed to have passed and House seemed more steady.
“I’ll be fine.” He began to walk back towards his room.
“Your defense all worked out?” House nodded.
“I think it depends on the judge.” House was concentrating clearing his head as he spoke. “What her take is on my alleged action, in light of the fact that my needed medication was abruptly withdrawn. That my physicians were pressured by the investigating…by a cop with a vendetta…” He was struggling for words through the dizziness, but he seemed clear-headed.
“The DEA laws are pretty brutal.” House shrugged.
“What will be will be. I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of having to justify every…” He stopped, closing his eyes briefly, reflecting. They had reached his room.
“I talked to Dr. Wilson.”
“He got his testimony all worked out? Ready to screw me on the stand?”
“He’s not testifying. He told me, anyway.”
“Doesn’t matter. They have his statement…and his deal. They’ll subpoena him and he’ll have to testify. His sentiment is a little ‘after the barn door’s open,’ if you ask me.”
“He wanted you to understand why he felt he had…”
“Spare me. Yeah. I know. He went to Tritter to ‘save me’ from myself. Save me from going to jail.”
“He said he thought Dr. Chase was about to go to the DA...”
“You mean he hadn’t already?” This was accomplishing nothing but to get House increasingly agitated. Catherine sighed.
“Dr. Wilson should never have been prescribing for you. He has a personal relationship with you and never…”
“He knew that I…” House stopped as Catherine sat in one of the bedside chairs. He eased himself onto the edge of the bed, manually lifting his right leg up. Catherine observed him. He had never asked for more meds or more frequent dosages. He followed the protocol without questioning it, patiently. And she knew House wasn’t a patient man.
Catherine had met with Wilson earlier in the day. She had wanted to figure out a little bit of their seemingly complex relationship: close friends, patient/doctor, confidants. She doubted it was sexual. House struck her as completely heterosexual. Wilson, she hadn’t had quite a handle on…and with three failed marriages. But it was clear that their relationship was completely platonic: a close, close friendship; family, even.
Wilson, she knew, was an oncologist. He dealt on a daily basis with intractable, chronic pain. It was part of the job description. And alleviating that pain was a large part of Wilson’s job. Maybe that was why he felt qualified to deal with House’s pain issues.
“So why are you Dr. House’s prescribing MD?”
“It’s convenient for him.”
“He needs the meds.” He had sounded a bit defensive.
“Of that, there’s no doubt. None.” Wilson sighed, rubbing the back of his neck.
“House doesn’t trust doctors. He hasn’t for a long time. Not since…”
“The infarction fiasco.”
“Right. He quit physio after the first year and a half. Shortly thereafter, his significant other moved out. He practically drove her away. House completely withdrew. Basically stayed in his apartment for six months. Never kept doctors appointments; shopped; went for haircuts. He became a hermit. He needed the meds. Without someone writing him scrips, he would have simply died. It would have simply been too much for him.”
“Your prediction nearly came true on Christmas Eve. It had become too much for him without the meds. You knew that, but you convinced Dr. Cuddy to deny him needed medication.”
“I had no choice, Dr. Harrington. The DA had put a deal on the table…I went to them because I was scared for House. I saw a disaster coming. He didn’t; he never does. House can figure out everyone and everything…except himself. He struck a subordinate; a young doctor who not only is an opportunist, but had betrayed House before. When it had happened the first time, I thought House would have fired him. But he defended him as simply wanting to protect his job. He understood Dr. Chase’s motivation and found it within himself to accept it. It’s more than I would have done, but…” Harrington detected a note of deep admiration in Wilson’s voice.
“Anyway, I believed that Chase would go to the police and tell them something damaging to House. I have no idea what—but House…House sometimes colors outside the lines. We all do that…break strict medical rules for the greater ethical ‘right.’ House does it all the time. So I had no idea what Chase may have told Tritter…”
“Yes. The investigating officer for the case. I thought it would be a lesser evil if I could mitigate the damage. I got the DA to offer a deal—rehab instead of jail time. I thought that House would go for it.”
“How could you think that? I’ve known him for two weeks and I know he would never agree to taking such a deal. Especially if he thought he was right and would be acquitted.” Wilson sighed. Catherine paused. “Dr. House said that you dismissed him when he came to you about the returning pain this past autumn. That he asked you for Vicodin, but you insisted that the Ketamine was still working and blamed his pain on creeping middle age.”
“I did. And I was wrong. Clearly, in retrospect, the pain was returning. But at the time…”
“That’s when he stole your prescription pad, you know. He felt no one was listening. His case was crashing in on him…”
“The Addison’s case. Yes, I know. I was…One day I knew that House’s arrogance would get him into trouble. I was only trying to help him see…”
“Do you know, Dr. Wilson, how much of House’s so-called arrogance is for show? My guess is, after getting to know him, that House has more humility…real humility than any three doctors I’ve ever know in a major institution? Sure, he has absolute confidence in his skill as a doctor, but he questions himself all the time…” A lot of that had been pure speculation, but between reading House’s own writings, and having come to know him…and her discussions with Lisa Cuddy, Harrington was pretty sure she’d hit the mark.
“He tell you that?” Wilson had been sure that Harrington was coming down with Stockholm syndrome.
“Look, Dr. Wilson, I’m not here to accuse you of anything. Certainly Dr. House is self-destructive enough on his own. He’s hurting a lot inside, and I think you know that. You want to help, and that’s good. I understand very easily how Dr. House could shut himself up; be unwilling to see doctors and rely on someone he trusts…you. And you are a good friend to want to be there for him. But you aren’t a psychologist or psychiatrist. I think one thing I will ask of you if you visit him during his time here, especially…but for all time…is to not try to psychoanalyze him. He resents it and it deeply hurts him. He may not articulate it; he may make jokes about it, become sarcastic…but it hurts. Believe me.
“We’re going to get him on a reasonable and tolerable pain management protocol. It’s likely to end up being Gabapentin; an intrathetcal metered morphine pump. It’s not going to deal with the pain completely. The best I’ve seen with this combination is a pain level between a 3 and a 4. His pain will never be less than that. On his best days. He’ll probably have occasional breakthrough pain; and for that we’ll probably send him home with an emergency kit. He told me that he had one last spring. I assume it was something that he self-prescribed. I intend be his prescribing physician, as a matter of convenience. If he asks you to prescribe for him, send him to me. That’s why I’m prescribing for him, and not his pain management specialist. I’m here; Kwan is in New York. I’m sorry to be so long winded. Dr. Wilson. Be his friend. He needs that from you more than he needs you to be his doctor or his psychoanalyst.”
“Can I see him?”
“He’s still unwilling to see you. Give him a little time.”
“You know…I couldn’t stay that night...Christmas eve. I had been worried about him after I he left the office. The look on his face…I’d called him three times and when he didn’t answer…I thought… I saw him…lying there… But then I saw the empty oxy bottle and the whiskey. I couldn’t deal with it anymore. I felt terrible leaving him there but I…”
“You called Dr. Cuddy. I think that was the best thing you could have done under the circumstances.”
“He won’t see it that way.”
“He will. Give him some time. Right now, he’s having a hard time adjusting to the meds and we’re not anywhere close to an acceptable pain level for him. He needs to concentrate on that. Give it time.”
Catherine watched as House tried with no success to find a comfortable position in his bed. He was clearly exhausted, defeated, resigned, hurting. She was worried about the preliminary hearing…probably more than he was.
“Is the dizziness better? Should I get you anything for it?”
“Won’t it screw up our readings? The…” House had slipped off to sleep.
Harrington removed his shoes, and pulling the blanket up over him, bid him a peaceful rest.
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