Jerry Lewis says he's pain free after implant

Tuesday, September 14th 2004, 1:51 pm
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Comedian Jerry Lewis was once in so much pain that he regularly contemplated suicide. A ``pain pacemaker'' implanted in 2002 now enables him to trigger electronic impulses through his spine to his brain that eliminate the pain.

``It's like a mini vibrator,'' quipped Lewis, 78, at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol promoting federal research for the treatment of pain. ``It's also my garage opener.''

``I'm reborn, absolutely pain free,'' he added.

Lewis said he has suffered from debilitating pain ever since he chipped his spine in 1965 while taking a pratfall as part of his comedy routine. He said the estimated 75 million Americans who also suffer from chronic pain should seek help from a doctor specializing in pain management to find a treatment that can work for them.

``Most doctors leave medical school having learned basically nothing about treating pain,'' he said. ``It just isn't right.''

Lewis is a paid spokesman for Medtronic Inc., the company that makes the device he uses. Last January he completed rehabilitation for steroid dependence. He had been taking the steroid prednisone for pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic lung ailment.