I had an operation on my knee about 6 months ago. They removed a piece of cartilage that had mutinied and was floating about and causing havoc, getting stuck in between the other more obedient bones in my knee thus sending sharp ripples of nerve screaming shrills into my poor little brain. Where the hell would we be without painkillers in times like this, I ask you? It shouldn’t even be a question. It should be an exclamation. I can only imagine what it must have been like to be operated on in the old days with nothing but whisky to help you get through it, held down and being sawed at. And the surgeons were probably drunk too! The recovery would likely have been far worse than the operation itself. Or the non recovery. Nothing but whisky…. On the happy side of this, I do have painkillers and, what’s more, I have whisky too so it’s quite likely my liver will age by about 30 years in a matter of the next two weeks. But in addition to all of this, there has been an added complication. Blood clots joined the chorus; 4 of them harmonized in my calf muscle a couple of days after the operation until 2 got so bored they decided to canoe up my veins to set up camp in my right lung, via my heart. The technical term for this is pulmonary embolism and so large was the canoe that lodged in the main artery leading into my lungs that I had a more than 50/50 chance of snuffing it. They’ve got me on blood thinners now but for a moment it was a little hairy. Of course, the lovely Dr’s and Nurse’s that keep people like me alive for large amounts of money did their best to distract me from the real percentage of having a heart attack, dying or even worse…a stroke. They managed to “Put on a Happy Face” and “Always look on the bright side of life” as they wheeled me about at 50mph from one specialist machine and crew to another, all the time connected to a symphony of heart monitors and drip drip machines for percussion. For a man on the edge of meeting his maker, there sure were a lot of people smiling at me although it could have been the Oxycodone Acetaminophen distorting my perception. In fact, it all seemed like an Un Fun Disneyland experience. A series of unpleasant rides and hanging about waiting to get onto the next one. Take for example the evidently ever so popular Cat Scan ride, a line of recumbent mildly terrified customers all waiting our turn to get injected with a small bucket’s load of radioactive liquid before being slid into a huge ominous looking multi million $ white donut machine. The only difference between, lets say, Space Mountain at Disneyland and the Cat Scan ride was that there wasn’t a cardboard cut out of Mickey Mouse at the front of the queue with a sign saying “If you are are as tall as me you can get on this ride”. Instead, as each new patient was wheeled forward to take the place of the last one, there was a Dr of sorts armed with a clipboard and another one of those disconcerting beaming smiles informing us in a thick German accent “Ven vee inject you vis ze radioacative liquid you vil feel a sense of varmth all over ze body but DON’T VORRY!” As I neared my turn one ratchet at a time I heard this over and over again so by ze time I got to ze front of ze queue I vas able to recite all ze instructions, verbatim. Actually, I quite enjoyed the Cat Scan ride as when they injected me viz ze radioactive liquid the damp warmth that washed over me felt like a large cow with a big wet tongue licking my balls. Whether that sensation comes at the hands of the Mickey Mouse club or the folk over at NYU Emergency Centre courtesy of United Healthcare, it’s worth every penny.