Columnist comes clean about steroids

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

With the exception of maybe Barry Bonds, steroids are turning out not to be such a great thing for professional athletes in this century.

Many a bright career and promising life has been lost because the temptation was too great.

I was reminded last week that, in the right hands, steroids can be almost miracle drugs for those who really need them. Believe me, Tuesday morning I was in that category.

I woke up Monday with a sore left knee. It felt a little like a hyper extension and I figured I had slept on it in some weird fashion and it might be sore for a day or two. I limped around a little at work that day but late Monday after I finished up layout on the sports pages, I realized the knee had swelled and tightened and I couldn’t even stand on it.

Using desks as support I made it to the hallway where I considered briefly crawling out to my vehicle. Instead I managed to lean on the wall down the hall and get home.

I first tried taking a leftover hydrocodone pain pill, knowing I was going to have trouble sleeping because of how uncomfortable I was. It seemed to have absolutely no effect.

About 3 a.m. I tried the medicine for my gout and hopped into the living room to try and sleep in the recliner. The gout medicine, while not a steroid, seems like a miracle drug, because it can usually take away most of the inflammation of a gout attack in a few hours. It wasn’t helping my knee a bit though.

Finally, after a painful trip to the bathroom, where even hopping and limping was causing lots of pain, I told my wife we needed to go to the emergency room.

I actually drove to the hospital myself but when we pulled up in the parking lot of the emergency room I told my wife to go get a wheelchair. She thought I was being a bit dramatic, but when I almost fell down in the parking lot she scooted off to get a nurse and a wheel chair.

A shot of demerol got me through the x-rays and blood work they wanted. Once the results were in the doc announced that I didn’t seem to have any damage to the knee but it was certainly inflamed, with possibly some sort of arthritic event. He suggested a long needle and cortisone. I quickly relented to the treatment.

By the time the doc got back with the big needle the demerol was working well and my chin was taking a little rest on my chest as I sat in the wheelchair.

The cold betadine swab and the pricks from the shot to deaden the area barely even stirred me. The big needle went in and it got my attention, though.

After using the needle to withdraw about a shot glass of fluid, the doctor loaded up with cortisone and began distributing it around inside my knee joint. If I were the one giving that kind of shot I would insist that the patient’s hands be strapped down. He didn’t, and somehow I refrained from slapping the physician in the right ear.

A short time later the pain was much better and the nurse appeared with crutches. Take these and use them for a week, she said.

Back home I decided I would take a little rest from the demerol before I called in with whether or not I would be in to work that night.

Three hours later I found myself on the phone with the boss trying to explain through the demerol that I might be able to cover city council that night — I just needed a little rest first.

Needless to say, I didn’t make it in that night. But the next day the knee was out of pain and I was getting around well enough on the crutches to try and chase down a grass fire story.

It’s feeling so good it’s been hard to stay off the knee completely. In fact, if they’ll waive the drug screen I think I might be able to play center field for the Rockies next week.