By Amy Phillips Penn

I am sitting in an overstuffed chair with pipe cleaners in my nostrils, in a baroque living room somewhere on Park Avenue and the Fifties. Isn’t everyone?

I call my editor at the New York Post to check if my copy for tomorrow’s column is ok.

She says that I sound stuffed up.

Dr. Milton Reder, may he rest in peace, believed in cocaine, and he was no rock star. Trust me.

He distributed it in small legal doses as a remedy for acute pain.

I had a bout of sciatica from hell.

Make it go away, make it go away now.

I tried it all, or so I thought: Going to one of the best sports doctors in New York who told me take valium and stay in bed (a perfect prescription for border suicidal depression) which did nothing for the pain; then there was a well recommended chiropractor who made the pain significantly worse, a masseuse, an acupuncturist, and everything short of a witch doctor, which was on the short list.

My cousin, who had been bed-ridden with the same nightmare, suggested I limp as fast as I could to see Dr. Reder, who had magically cured him.

Celebrities loved Dr. Reder. His VIP list included: Hedy Lamar, General George S. Patton, George Burns, David Brenner, Sonny Bono, my sciatica soul mate, and Whitey Ford (sore shoulder).

Then there was the “B list,” which included me and a few patients who looked like they were in the mob; no glamour here, unless you were into nose hangers.

I’m sitting in Dr. Reder’s pump-me-up-please chair, as his son assists in inserting the magic potion pipe cleaners in my nose. The son went to school with my brother. Does a New York private school graduate make one an expert in pipe cleaner dabbed in cocaine insertion? Bwahahahah!!!

Between pipe cleaners, I go into my journalistic mode.

“Dr. Reder, I’d like to write about you,” I suggest nasally.

“Dahling. Do me a favor, do not write about me.”

Enough said.

I went to Dr. Reder several times (it was either $25 or $50 a pop if memory means much), and the pain lingered and tortured on. Riding the train with that little cocaine did not make me even high or happy.

If you wanted “high and happy,” try Studio 54 where you could always pile into a locked bathroom with several bodies stacked on the toilet seat and the door closed.

The sciatica pinched on through four and a half months. I thought this was my life.

If it was, someone else could have it.

I flew down to the Palm Beach Polo Club, to cover a weekend that would have been mega fun, if it weren’t for being in agony. The plane ride was torture. When I tried to get up, I felt like I was going to break.

After creaking through the festivities, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to try her new polo pony. My sports doctor had prescribed no exercise.

I said no once, then she asked again.

Up I went, and around the lake at a perfect trot. Miracle: All the pain – I mean all the pain – went away.

I dismounted, and every bit of the pain charged in.

Almost equally painful, I had to call my superstar doctor and tell him that a polo pony had cured me temporarily.

Finally, he got it.

A few weeks later after stretch classes and physical therapy, I felt fabulous.

As for the pipe cleaners, the polo pony, or the combo, don’t try this one at home.


Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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