A noteworthy pain in my right knee. It was enough to make me scream with agony when I got out of bed.
Naturally, as a good citizen, I began to see my doctor not only occasionally but frequently.
I got MRI after MRI and prior to that, X-ray after X-ray.
At first, the photos showed little distinctive. But soon enough there were signs of a huge chipping off my kneecap.
One orthopedist, a big name in Los Angeles pro sports, recommended shots of a special compound he invented.
Twenty-five hundred bucks. Three days relief. Another shot for $1,500. No relief at all.
Meanwhile, one massage after another. Bad, bad news.
The massages were great, but the relief was nil. Finally, I could take no more and asked for a full knee replacement.
Trouble from the first minute. My anesthesiologist was tied up in emergency surgery. I was given a replacement — a woman who insisted on giving me a spinal epidural.
She assured me I would barely feel it. Big time contender for worst lie of all time. I passed out holding a huge teddy bear.
When I awakened, the room was shaking all around me. The lights were going on and off like the lights in a submarine that has been damaged but not yet sunk by a depth charge. I thought it must be a few days later than the teddy bear episode. But, no, it was the same day.
When I awakened again, I thought I was in Winston Churchill’s wartime bomb shelter, and I thought I saw the great man waltzing around in his dancing pumps from Harrow School.
No, again it was the same day.
Finally, I slept and when I awakened, it was the next day and rain and thunder were all about.
The doctors and nurses all had promised me there would be almost no pain, and whatever pain there was would be knocked out by potent painkillers.
What a lie!
The “potent painkillers” were Tylenol and acetaminophen (same thing). I finally had the horrible Foley catheter removed and could attempt to stagger to the tiny bathroom (an extra $750 per day).
The pain was beyond speaking. I had never realized there even was such pain on Earth. It was pain a Navy SEAL would have had trouble with. It was beyond belief.
This pain lasted for five days, more or less. I had been suffering for about a month with the loss of a close, close friend (and Nixon speechwriter) Aram Bakshian. Physical
pain from bone on bone surgery is far worse.
Because of the worst government invention of all time, the “war on drugs,” we pitiful old invalids were basically given nothing for excruciating pain. Yes, we were told we were being given morphine. But I have felt morphine, and it’s not what I was given at the hospital. The nurses were uniformly cheerful and helpful, but government policy tied
Now, I have been home for about three weeks. I am still in severe pain. I have my own nurses. I pay for them myself, along with my Screen Actors Guild insurance.
They do seem to care whether I live or die. I give them plenty of props for that. They are all men and they help me with my showers, and I appreciate that.
But as to the horrifying pain coming from my knees, it seems to be alive and well in Paraguay, waiting for its chance to come back stronger than ever.
Ben Stein is a writer, an actor, and a lawyer who served as a speechwriter in the Nixon administration as the Watergate scandal unfolded. He began his unlikely road to stardom when director John Hughes hired him as the numbingly dull economics teacher in the urban comedy, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Read more more reports from Ben Stein — Click Here Now.
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