Lisa Cuddy, Dean of Medicine at Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, sifted rapidly through the numerous resumes and CV's on her desk, sorting them quickly into two piles. The board had asked her to look into setting up a new department of Diagnostic Medicine, which would take any difficult cases that other doctors were having trouble working out. The head of the department would need to be experienced and willing to take risks to serve their patient's health. Working under them would be three younger doctors, their jobs being three year fellowships. She already had the fellowships sorted, but unfortunately, it was proving harder than she expected to find the right person for the head of the department.
Of the two piles on her desk, the one she had mentally labelled as No good! was far larger than the other, Interview them, which currently had only two files on it. She finished sorting, pushing the No good! pile off to the side for her assistant to sort through and reply to later and turning her attention to the four files of the doctors she wanted to interview. The first one's qualifications were excellent, which had been what caught Cuddy's eye at first, but on closer inspection she found out that the doctor hadn't been practising long and was relatively inexperienced. They did, however, have clean medical and criminal records, so Cuddy marked the file as a safe bet and carried on to the next one, which showed a lot more promise. Gregory House was printed neatly across the top of the folder.
She read it with wide eyes. Cuddy hadn't looked at the names before, not wanting to bias her judgement, but Greg House! She had never met him, but he had been in med school at Michigan when she was an undergrad and was known to everyone. His textbook on Nephrology was still required reading for every medical student. Then, a few years ago, he had disappeared from the map; he stopped speaking at conferences, publishing articles. He left the (medical) public eye entirely. It said in his file that his last place of employment was Princeton General. Cuddy was surprised. They hid that well, she thought. She was surprised to see that he left their employment just under a year ago. He had been unemployed for a year? He hadn't been fired from General so what had prevented him from getting another job? She knew his bedside manner had fallen from disrepute into infamy some years ago, but that couldn't be the only reason. Then she turned the page to read his medical history. What she saw shocked and saddened her. Greg House was crippled.
A year ago, he had had an aneurysm in his lateral circumflex femoral artery, which clotted, infarcting the muscle. It was misdiagnosed as delayed onset muscle soreness and he was prescribed bed rest and a heating pad. Three days later, in excruciating pain, he diagnosed himself. He requested a bypass to restore blood flow to the dead or dying muscle, believing that amputation was too extreme when he could recover with full use of his leg. However, the pain after the bypass surgery was too much and he was put in a coma to sleep through it. Five hours and a cardiac arrest later, his girlfriend, who was also his medical proxy, decided that his life was worth more than his leg. She gave permission for the dead muscle to be cut out, which in the end, probably saved his life. Cuddy glanced over the surgeon's notes. ...97% of patient's rectus femoris removed, along with 32% of the vastus lateralis... removed muscle completely necrotic... previous bypass had minimal effect on the restoration of blood flow... After that there were regular signoffs from a physical therapist and prescription notes. In the first few months, the signatures were almost every day, but as time went on, the PT appointments decreased. The last one was dated a fortnight ago. Cuddy wondered how bad his life was right now. She looked at the medication he was taking. Coumadin to prevent further clots and Vicodin. The pain must be hellish, she thought, to warrant taking such a strong narcotic. She wondered whether he could still walk, considering the pain and complete lack of muscle. Perhaps he uses crutches, she thought. He must certainly have a bad limp, anyway. She shook her head, trying to erase the pity she felt for a man she didn't even know.
She quickly perused the other files and made up her mind to call all of them tomorrow to set up interviews.
Greg House was in the bath when the phone rang the morning after Lisa Cuddy looked at his application. He knew he wouldn't be able to reach it in time, so he let it ring. After a minute, the answer phone clicked on and he heard a muffled woman's voice. His heart leapt for a second. Stacy? He quickly extinguished all hope, because he knew it was false. She wasn't coming back. After a few more minutes, he heaved himself up and slowly got dressed, then he limped into the living room to return the call. He listened to the message. The voice sounded tinny through the small speaker on the answer phone.
"Hello, this is Dr. Lisa Cuddy from Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Sorry to have missed you, if you could please call me back as soon as possible, regarding your job interview. Thanks."
Short, and to the point, House thought. Very professional. But he was pleased though. He had been getting increasingly bored over the past few months, and it had been a week or two ago when he decided he was fully ready to return to work. He didn't have any desire to return to General, so he turned to PPTH and fortunately he found an opening. He pressed redial and listened to the phone ring. After a few rings, Dr Cuddy picked up.
"Dr Cuddy, Dean of Medicine at Princeton Plainsboro speaking. How can can I help you?"
"Dr Cuddy, this is Greg House, calling about the job interview."
"Ah, Dr House, thank you for calling back so promptly." She was surprised. She had figured he was out for the day, or something, and wouldn't return the call until the afternoon, or possibly even tomorrow. As if he had read her mind, House said:
"Yeah, sorry I didn't pick up. Takes me a while to get to the phone. I guess you know that from my medical file." He spoke quietly, as though it took great effort to get the words out right. Cuddly cleared her throat awkwardly.
"Yes," she assented, aiming to put the subject back on track. "I was calling about what time to set up your interview for. Can you do 11:30 tomorrow morning?"
"That sounds fine," House said. "Well, then," Cuddy said, trying to wrap up the uncomfortable conversation. "I look forward to meeting you tomorrow."
"Yeah. Okay," House said bluntly. "Goodbye."
"Goodbye," Cuddy replied.