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Painless (House)

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Painless (House)

House episode
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 12
Directed by Andrew Bernstein
Written by Thomas L. Moran & Eli Attie
Original air date January 19, 2009
Guest actors
Season 5 episodes
List of episodes

"Painless" is the twelfth episode of the fifth season of House and the ninety-eighth episode overall. It aired on January 19, 2009.


Jeff is admitted to the hospital after a suicide attempt; his wife and son found him unconscious in a garage filled with car exhaust fumes and managed to resuscitate him. Jeff has been suffering from chronic and severe pain all over his body for many years, and no doctor could find the cause or treatment.

House, whose leg pain is worse than usual, takes up the case. The team starts with a 'pain profile' and a search of the patient's home. The chronic pain seems to be either from depression showing psychosomatic symptoms or from quail-related food poisoning. Multiple tests rule out all the suggestions, and Jeff's condition dramatically worsens. However, House finds out that Jeff blew air through the IV tube in another attempt to kill himself. House refuses to let him die, and Jeff is put on suicide watch. The team now suspects an inherited enzyme deficiency, but during the test, the pain suddenly intensifies and jumps from his arm to his leg. In order to make sure whether the pain is physical or psychosomatic, the team performs a test in which the spine is temporarily and completely blocked. House is puzzled when the patient reports he feels reduced pain during the procedure; he should either continue to feel the same pain or feel none at all.

Taub seems to take a certain distaste toward Jeff's actions, and repeatedly belittles him for trying to kill himself and reminding him of the damage his family would suffer. Kutner is intrigued and assumes someone in Taub's family has committed suicide and has left Taub with some emotional baggage. Taub claims someone he worked with tried to kill himself and nearly destroyed his family, but Kutner believes that the person Taub talked about was Taub himself although he denies it.

Jeff's son appears to have a similar condition when he is found writhing and screaming in pain on the hospital floor. However, House asserts he is bluffing, and the son confesses that it was a diversion so that his father can drink isopropyl alcohol and commit suicide. He breaks down saying he cannot stand to see his father living in pain. The team now believes that the painkillers Jeff has been taking were misinterpreted by the stressed brain as pain. As a last resort, Jeff is taken off all his drugs so that his brain can 'recalibrate', but he begins to feel excruciating pain and shows no improvement over time. Jeff's wife begs House to let him go home and kill himself in peace, and House reluctantly agrees as he understands Jeff's pain.

Meanwhile, House has been having problems with plumbing at home. He refuses to accept that the leaks and the collapsed ceiling were caused by negligence and therefore not covered under insurance. House ultimately bribes the plumber to lie on his report, though later on House discovers that it was as a result of his own negligence (using the exposed pipe in his shower as a brace to get into/out of the bathtub). During the conversation, House has a revelation when the plumber scratches his own genital area. House diagnoses the patient with epilepsy; it began in the muscles of the testicle and 'rewired' the neurons of the related region in the brain too deep to be detected by EEG. A test confirms it and Jeff is finally relieved of his intense pain.

Throughout the diagnosis, Thirteen continues the drug trial for her Huntington's disease under Foreman's supervision. Thirteen admits to Foreman that she likes him, but refuses to have a relationship because of the impending symptoms of her disease. Thirteen gradually finds hope after witnessing another drug trial patient getting better, and agrees to date Foreman at the end of the episode. However, Foreman accidentally finds out that Thirteen has been on placebo all along.

Cuddy stays at home getting prepared for an inspection from the Division of Youth and Family Services. Although she eventually passes the inspection with ease, she is doubtful if she meets her own expectations in raising Rachel. Wilson advises her to stop creating ridiculous standards for herself and get help. At the end of the episode, Cuddy asks Cameron if she would like to take up her job as Dean of Medicine.


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