Anybody got the number to the Betty Ford Clinic?

I may need to book a room after my drug-induced week on the living room couch. I've been a tee-totaling Baptist my entire life --- nary a grain of alcohol has touched my parched lips ---- knowingly.

And now, I'm locked away in my apartment, the blinds drawn, the lights dimmed, popping Vicodin like Quentin Tarantino's Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction. Well sort of. My dealer is the pharmacist down at the Rite Aid. And I do have a prescription. And my doctor says I've got a better shot of getting addicted to caffeine. You've gotta work with me, folks.

It all started last month in Central Park. I was about a mile into a road race when I felt a slight ache just below my left knee. By mile two, my knee decided to stop working altogether and I hobbled back to the start. After a few weeks the pain failed to subside so I figured it was time to get checked out.

And that, my friends, was the start of my first New York City hospital experience. For those of you who've been subjected to medical care in let's say --- Bangladesh --- you'll be able to relate to my experience.

The hospital shall remain anonymous --- for two reasons. First, it's a Catholic hospital. Second, I don't want to be on the bad side of the pope. The first sign of trouble was outside the emergency room, where a horde of rent-a-cops stood guard while oogling the nurses. After signing in, I hobbled to the waiting room, and sat down in a creaky, rusted out chair, taking stock of my surroundings.

To my left there was a homeless guy, bathing himself in the water fountain. To my right, some college co-eds purging themselves after a night of binge drinking limoncellos. And directly across from my seat --- a guy who thought he was Johnny Cash. The man in black serenaded the emergency room with a number of selections --- all he was missing was June and pitch.

Thankfully, I only had to wait five hours to be seen by a doctor --- who promptly took my pants and force-fed me painkillers. About ten minutes later, the nurse dropped by with some rather odd news. The homeless guy at the water fountain needed my bed.

By this point, the painkillers had kicked in so any semblence of genteel southern behavior was lost in my drug-induced fog. I'm not sure of the sequence of events, but it does involve me reminding them which patient had health insurance and then wondering what sort of third world hospital they were running.

I woke up slumped over that rusty chair in the waiting room without my pants. The homeless guy was resting comfortably in my hospital bed, and the rent-a-cops were trying to hit on a couple of paramedics.

A few days later I related the story to my orthopedic specialist -- promising to cure my leg woes with an epideral. In the meantime, he prescribed bed rest and Vicodin --- not a bad combination.

But I'm afraid I've had too much of a good thing. Yesterday morning, I woke up to discover a strange hand hovering over my face. I jerked up out of bed, thinking someone had broken into my apartment. It was, in fact, my own hand. I need help.

So what have I learned from this experience on the dark side?

Ashton Kutcher movies really are funny when you're on drugs.