Sunday, December 14, 2008

House: Viewer Discretion Advised (Or, "The episode about lactose intolerance")

Warning: Although this is probably the stupidest thing I've ever written, it does contain actual useful information about lactose intolerance, which you can easily find if you just scroll down and look for stuff in red. Doesn't this color arrangement look so Christmasy?
In an earlier post I commented that one of my first posts, about lactose intolerance, still gets a lot of hits, enough that I thought I should expound my own discovery about how my disparate symptoms were caused by low production of lactase enzymes that break down milk sugar.

I also said that my convolutedly lengthy journey to discover the source of my ailment and symptoms is truly a homeric odyssey worthy of a "House" episode. So just to help out the good folks at the Fox network, I have written part of the script for what would no doubt be a gripping episode. Of course, the rest of the episode (e.g., the opening, the secondary plot, etc.) will have to be added, but this is an excellent beginning.

I could play myself, but I'm sure Fox would attract more viewers if Keanu Reeves plays me in a groundbreaking television role. My girlfriend at the time (my ex) would be played by Jenna Fischer of The Office, who looks exactly like how I wish my then-girlfriend looked.

Although this is a dramatization, there is some serious information in here. If you don't care to read through what is no doubt a very, very silly piece of writing, just look for the stuff highlighted in red, because that contains real information about lactose intolerance.

Too many people have suffered. If retelling my painful journey will help even one LI sufferer, it's all worth it. (NOTE: lactose intolerance is a distinct condition from milk allergy; though many people mistakenly believe they are the same thing, they are definitely not.)

Scene: In the examining room.
All the doctors are standing around KUSHIBO and KUSHIBO'S GIRLFRIEND (KG), who is sitting on an examining table wearing a hospital gown, his muscular physique apparent through the flimsy cloth.

So the subject has had wickedly painful stomach and intestinal cramps since very early adulthood, sometimes in the middle of the night, forcing him awake and unable to get back to sleep. These nighttime pains are sometimes accompanied by diarrhea.

When I wake up in the morning, I'm completely okay. It's not until later in the day that I start getting the cramping pain, which feels like someone or something is squeezing my stomach hard. There's also some bloating.

Bloating? Cramps? That sounds like your monthly visitor, cowboy.

His stomach also makes weird gurgling noises. At first I thought it was cute and I poked fun at him for it, but then it got really annoying. I mean like, damn, can't you turn that off for a while? You're drowning out the TV!

[sarcastically responding to KG's passive aggression and interpreting it as her subconscious desire to end the relationship] I can just tell you're both soooo in love.

What can I say? He's great in the sack.

Scene: House's office
The doctors have left KUSHIBO and KG in the examining room while they brainstorm about what could be causing these symptoms.

So, House, what do you think it is? Stomach cancer? Ulcer? Alien life form surreptitiously implanted in his gastrointestinal tract? Parthenogenesis?

Obviously we'll have to rule each of those out one-by-one. I just sent the patient to the endoscopy room to get an endoscopy.

[heard screaming off camera] Oh... dear... Mother of God...! Get that thing out of me! You're scraping the insides of my stomach! Oh, make it stop! Make it stop! [sobbing] Make it stop!

Wow, was my statement ever redundant! What else would you do in the endoscopy room besides get an endoscope shoved down one of your orifices?

[looking at charts that were just brought in] Well, the results of the endoscopy show no signs of an ulcer.

What about the possibility of lactose intolerance?

Well, the patient's sister is lactose intolerant, but the patient says he doesn't usually have the flatulence which often accompanies lactose intolerance.

[suddenly appears, in order to offer eye candy to the viewers] And he said he gets the same pains even on days when he consumes no milk, yogurt, cheese, or ice cream.

In that case, I think we can rule that out... for now. What else have you got?

Supersize tape worm swimming around his upper intestine?

I don't think so. We would have noticed its tail during the endoscopy. Ditto with the alien life form.

Should we send him back for another endoscopy?

Sure, why not. He looks bored. Plus I'd like to get his totally hot girlfriend alone for a while so I can playfully flirt with her while simultaneously insulting her.

Scene: Endoscopy room
KUSHIBO is wheeled back in. He lies down on the table and starts talking with Remy, who is performing the procedure.

Hey, I know my girlfriend's just outside, but I wanted to tell you that I think you're totally hot.

Um, thanks. [waits in awkward silence for the topical anesthetic applied to KUSHIBO's throat to kick in]

By the way, I loved you in The Black Donnellys. That was a great show, one of the best on television. They never should have cancelled it.

Yeah, but what are you gonna do? NBC executives are clueless dicks who wouldn't know a quality show with potential if it bit them in the ass.

I'm trying to make sure this blog stays "SafeSearch"-friendly, so when you say "dick," can you say it with the little cent-sign over the c, like this: di¢k.

You're a di¢k.

FYI, you're on my laminated list, so if you want to hook up after work, I'm technically unattached.

I think now is a good time for me to shove this camera tube down your gullet.

Scene: examination room
KUSHIBO is wheeled back into the examination room. He's lying there, reeling from the pain of a second endoscopy. DR KUTNER enters the room to look at his charts.

By the way, Kumar, I'm glad you finally decided to fulfill your potential and went on to medical school. Your parents must be proud.

My name's not Kumar, asswipe. It's Lawrence Kutner.

Um... Yeah. Right. Okay.


Scene: House's office
All the doctors have reconvened to discuss the case.

I don't think we'll ever figure out what's wrong with this Kushibo guy. Maybe if we do something totally mundane and routine we'll suddenly have an epiphany about what's causing this ailment, although that will leave the audience feeling a little less confident in our collective abilities since we couldn't figure out the obvious solution when we were actually trying to brainstorm.

Sounds like a plan. Here, let's have some sandwiches I made. That's pretty mundane and routine.

You know I don't eat bread that's not 100% whole wheat.

This is 100% whole wheat, you anal-retentive cripple. Look here on the ingredients panel of the loaf of bread, which for some reason I happen to have on me right now.

Foreman, you're a genius!

I am? Why?

If you don't know why you're a genius, then clearly you're no smarter than a broken clock that happens to be right twice a day and I retract my earlier compliment. [points to loaf of bread ingredients panel] The answer is right here. It's lactose intolerance after all.

I don't follow.

Of course you don't. You're an idiot. Read the ingredients panel: bread is often made with dairy products. [HOUSE starts walking toward the examination room to tell the news to KUSHIBO and KG]
All this time when you thought you had eliminated milk products from your diet, you'd been consuming bread all day long!

You mean... Those bastards at Orowheat have been trying to kill me?!

Probably. And Roman Meal, too. You strike me as someone who has a lot of enemies.

Of course, we'll have to run some tests to verify this diagnosis, but we're running out of time, so I'm sure that's what the results will be. You'll have to drink a lactose-rich beverage, after which we'll test for methane gas in your belches to determine if the flora in your GI tract is breaking down the lactose instead of your own body doing it through lactase production.

A lactose-rich drink given to a potentially lactose-intolerant patient? Won't that cause tremendous cramping?

Yes, but sometimes we have to destroy the patient in order to save him.

Oh, look. We got the results back... at a rate of speed so fast it would only be possible on television. The results are positive: You are lactose intolerant.

That doesn't sound very positive to me.

That's why we're medical doctors and you're just working on a PhD.

So what do I do?

That's simple. Either lay off dairy products, be sure to read ingredients labels carefully since Big Dairy literally has its utters in everything. Or head down to the local drug store and buy yourself some lactase pills, which you take whenever you consume dairy. The lactase in the pills will break down the lactose for you into harmless galactose and glucose. I recommend Costco, since they're the cheapest. You strike me as someone who lives on a budget.

Oh, and lactose-free milk is also an option. Lactaid™ produces a whole line of products, but a lot of grocery store chains like Safeway have their own store brand, which might cost a little less.

Switching to soy milk could also work. The slight aftertaste might take some getting used to, but after a while you might start enjoying the nutty flavor. Plus it's rich in soy protein, which is good for lots of things I can't remember off the top of my head since I'm not a public health specialist.

Kumar, are you saying you're lactose intolerant, too?

Yes. Studies indicate that about ninety percent of Asian-Americans, including those of Indian descent, are lactose intolerant. Blacks, too. Right, Foreman?


And Hispanics, too. Right, Hadley?

I'm not Hispanic. I'm just a really odd-looking Irish girl.

Thanks, Dr. House. I learned a real lesson today.

[KUSHIBO and KG leave the hospital, walking hand in hand; KG turns to KUSHIBO]

Who knew Stuart Little's father could be such an ass?


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