Artie Lange: Howard Called Me at the Psych Ward

7/15/2011 10:10 AM PDT

Artie Lange: Howard Called Me at the Psych Ward

Howard Stern didn't turn his back on Artie Lange when the comic entered treatment last year -- in fact, Lange claims, Howard even called him ... while Lange was in a psych ward.

Lange dropped the Dan Patrick Show a line this morning, claiming, "Howard called me a bunch of times when i was going through the hardest parts of my ordeal ... he called me when I was in the psych ward once."

As we previously reported, Lange disappeared from the Stern show in January 2010 to deal with a private medical condition.

Lange claims he'd do anything to get back on the Stern show -- telling DP, "I would vacuum the studio. I would do anything they wanted ... I would do it in a heartbeat."

We broke the story ... Artie's plotting his own return to radio -- a sports show unaffiliated with Stern -- but so far, no deal's in place.