Jerry Lewis' Pain -- May 8, 2005

ByABC News

  -- A weekly feature on This Week.

It turns out all those pratfalls of Jerry Lewis came at a price -- thirty-seven years of constant pain -- pain that got so bad he nearly took his life. Then he found an answer. Lewis' story is part of our weeklong ABC News and USA Today series, "The Fight Against Pain."

Jerry Lewis: "Chronic pain is not like any other malady. It is consistent. It is laborious. It is constant. It doesn't leave you alone. It is the number one reason that we have suicides in this country today.

"Now, you have to remember that my pain came from more than 70 years of taking falls. And the first fall I took, I was 5 years old; I never stopped falling since.

"I fell 2,000 times on my spine, on my back, the very place that I shattered.

"I was hooked on Percodan. In 1965, they gave me one Percodan that took me through the day. And by '78, I was taking 13 a day, 15 a day.

"The addiction is devastating, because you're not even clear anymore why you're taking it. I had already discussed a variety of options, one of which was to kill myself. And when I got to that morning, I'd had it. I never thought about the love I have for my wife, or the love I have for my daughter. I mean they weren't even in my mind when I took a nine-millimeter Baretta, put it on the table in my dressing quarters.

"I now have a battery under my skin. … This is the programmer. So I press this on button here. Did you hear that? Little ping, and I'm stimulating, and I don't have any pain.

"It also opens my garage door! God Bless America!"

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

Leno: "Vice President Dick Cheney described al Qaeda as wounded, off-balance and on the run. No, I'm sorry, that's that bride from Georgia."

The Late Show with David Letterman:

Letterman: "But here was something encouraging. Al Qaeda's number three man was captured. And we have been learning more and more about this guy. Number three guy. Quite a success story. Yes. Number three man, and they believe this is the guy that has been putting all the fingers in our food."

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:

Stewart: "Now to focus, if we could, on the bizarro United States. It's a place where conservatives are powerless and emasculated and liberals rule the day. It's a land known as England, and they're having an election. Tomorrow is election day in the United Kingdom and Prime Minister Tony Blair of the Labor Party is poised to capture a historic third term in office. Blair's wide lead in the polls comes despite lingering public mistrust over his pro-war stance."

Tony Blair (on tape): "Well, I've never told a lie. No, I don't intend to go telling lies to people. I did not lie over Iraq. I've made that very clear to people."

Stewart: I'm not saying he's defensive, but the question was, 'Boxers or briefs.' "

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