Ask friends if they have an extra set of crutches and everybody has one, if not two. Crutches, sock jockeys, foot-long shoe horns and portable toilets. It’s almost funny and if it isn’t, it probably should be.

Wednesday, I had knee surgery. Maybe it’s the drugs, but I feel great. It’s probably the drugs.

I had an opportunity to wear one of those blue, gauzy head covers and no one took a picture of me. I don’t think they did but if they did, it proves a point. My friends aren’t worth a darn and no one looks good in one of those.

“I think Brad Pitt might look good in one,” said my pre-op nurse, when I asked her.

I’m not Brad Pitt and thankfully nobody else is either except for Brad Pitt.

It is a truism that three days before surgery, you will have a burst of health and never feel better. What am I going to have to do here? Hit my knee with a hammer to remember why I went down this road in the first place?

Pain in my left knee? Gone. I’d never felt better.

What nobody feels good about is the no eating or drinking eight hours before surgery. No food, no drink, no reason to live.

Time to double up, so the day before I went on an anti-fast. I had a double helping of leftover Asian-Cajun pork butt for lunch and then backed it up with a New York steak, tater tots and a spicy little coleslaw salad for dinner, washed down with two palomas, featuring some terrific, smoky mezcal friends gave me.

Who knows? I might not make it through surgery. If the gas guy turns up the gas and I don’t make it, I wanted my last meal to be my last, best meal.

Surgery day is odd. Especially when it’s scheduled for 12:30 p.m. I wheeled the trash and recycling bins to the curb. I did a load of laundry. I cleaned up the kitchen. I might as well have been having a baby.

My mom took me to the surgery center. My 91-year-old mother. Why not throw her on the table too and get the family discount.

I like waiting rooms because I’m curious why people are there. It’s better than any reality show.

There was a blond couple sitting across from me and eventually a nurse came and took the woman inside the doors to the prep room.

“What happened to her?” I asked, leaving out designations like girlfriends, wives or daughters because I’ve messed that up royally before.

“My fiancee sliced a nerve in her finger while she was cutting up an avocado,” he said.

I almost did that two days ago. Once you hit that hard seed in the middle, the knife tends to go cattywampus, anything can happen and the things that can happen are not good things.

“Turns out the ER doctor said it’s a common injury,” he said. “The avocado companies are considering putting warning stickers on avocados.”

Fascinating. I had learned something. Had I not been in the waiting room, I would have never met somebody with the avocado-cutting injury that most of us have been skirting.

My turn. The nurse led me to the staging room where she took my blood pressure (off the charts), helped me put on the robe, which I once again bungled by tying the upper string to the lower string, put in an IV and then we waited for Chris Hamilton to patch up a couple of shoulders before he turned to me.

I want one of Chris’ hats. No gauzy, blue one for him. His says, “I’m the man and I’m going to make you better.”

I met the anesthesiologist and told him not to blow it because I was much loved. He acted like he believed it, but everybody uses that line and no one really believes it.

After giving me a shot, they wheeled me into the operating room, which is like going onto a well-lit stage. That’s the last thing I remember before seeing Sam, who was my ride home. His mother and I had once picked him up in a hospital in San Diego so maybe he was trying to even the score.

Mom was in the car. When we got home, I had two handfuls of jelly beans, leftover steak, tater tots, two slices of sourdough toast, one slathered with creamed honey and the other with plum jelly. In that order.

I feel great. Maybe it’s the 800 mg of ibuprofen. Either way, good days are ahead for all of us.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at or 661-395-7279.

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