By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

On the disabled list (II)

Is that cheese? Or SpongeBob SquarePants?

Just want to write a brief, one-handed update for those who don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

This morning I had surgery at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington to repair my shattered right elbow. It went well, and I’m home and pretty much pain-free. (Nothing like Percoset.) Unfortunately, they had to put in a plate and some screws, and the road to recovery is looking a lot longer than I’d thought.

The crazy yellow foam concoction that you see is meant to keep my elbow protected and elevated, and I’ve got to wear it for at least a week. I’ll be out of work for at least two weeks.

I really do think I’m done riding my bicycle. I’ve taken two or three pretty hard spills over the past few years. The only difference on those occasions was that I wasn’t seriously hurt. I’d like to get back to running, but at my age (54) the nagging injuries have me not doing it as much as I do it. I’d hate to join a gym, but it may come to that.

Finally — all hail Lahey. I couldn’t be more impressed with the quality of care I received, both in the emergency room in Peabody on Sunday and in the surgical unit today. I chose the Lahey E.R. almost at random, and I’m really glad that I did.

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  1. Mary DeChillo

    Dan,best wishes for a speedy recovery, one day at a time. I just got discharged from physical therapy after a knee replacement in May. I was told by my doctor that the key to resuming range of motion is complying with the physical therapy regimen. You will grow to hate the therapist at times when they push you, but you will be thankful when you see progress toward recovery. And about the bike riding–could you perhaps convince my 57 husband of the same?

  2. Speedy recovery, Dan!

  3. Duke Briscoe

    I hope your recovery goes well. If you eventually get the hankering for some self-powered wheeled mobility again, you might take a look at recumbent tricycles – one manufacturer is , or look over a lot more reviews at . But there isn’t much selection under a thousand dollars.

  4. steven west

    hope you recover and get well soon

  5. Al Fiantaca

    Dan: I hate to see you think about giving up riding. Just be more cautious on your rides. As for running, I’m a few years older than you, and I’m cursed with cranky knees, not bad enough to do anything about, but enough to make anything longer than some interval sprints a problem. Instead, I walk, every day, come hell or high water. I do about 5 miles a day, and it helped me take off nearly 60 pounds and keep it off for the better part of 10 years. I get fresh air, have met a lot of people, and feel good. I can also do it anywhere without worrying about getting to the gym. Have a speedy recovery, and I hope you can type well with your left hand while you’re in the Sponge Bob splint.

  6. Chris Connelly

    Best wishes. I hope you mend quickly. There’s a rumor going around that your new nickname is Lefty.

  7. Yikes, feel better, Dan.

    I’m surprised you can even type with the Percs, nevermind one handed!

  8. Well, I hope you are a one-handed typist. Are you going on Beat the Press wearing that yellow thing? Could be amusing! But seriously, please feel better soon.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Donna: I won’t be on this week, and probably not next week, either. Unfortunately, I’m a right-hander and two-handed typist.

  9. Mike Stucka

    If you need a physical terrorist, the best is Joe DiVincenzo at Beverly Hospital — something something institute something sports rehab something.

    Feel better!

  10. Dan Doucette

    Perhaps this is an opportunity for you to audition one of those voice-recognition applications ? Hopefully you don’t have a “wicked” Bahston accent that would be more difficult for the software to recognize.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Dan: I think I’ll be considerably less encumbered a week from now, but yes, something to keep in mind. Thanks.

  11. 54? Hah! You’re a year older than me! Myah-Nyah!

    Sorry to hear about the accident, but glad to hear you got the good drugs. Enjoy that part of it! We could do some sort of battling drug-addled blogger thing, as I expect to get percs tomorrow after I have some teeth yanked.

    (Well, actually, percs don’t affect my writing in the least. Skip it.)

    Feel better soon.

    By the way, will this take you off of Beat The Press for now, or do you expect the arm to be less encumbered by time of the taping?

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Jim: Thanks. I’m actually not a fan of mind-altering drugs, so the thrill is kind of wasted on me. Hoping to get off Percocet ASAP so I can resume driving my daughter to school.

  12. Dan,

    Speedy recovery– like another commenter above, hate to think of you giving up biking– rowing maybe?

  13. Ah, I forgot. You have actual responsibilities 🙂

  14. Kathy Nolan Deschenes

    Who was your surgeon? I’m seeing Dr. Smiley (he’s at both the Peabody and Burlington sites) for a ruptured labrum. The PT folks in Burlington are the best so I hope they send you there when your elbow is ready for some action.

    Heal soon!

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Kathy: Dr. Andrew Marcantonio, who specializes in traumatology. Seems great, good bedside manner. Appears to be all of 22 years old.

  15. Aaah, you guys shouldn’t pull the age cards for yourselves or your hubbies. I think I can because I”m 62 and ride all the time. In fact, I’m out in a few minutes for a long fitness spin.

    I’ve been hit by cars a few times, but the extra years stored up not to mention the endorphins more than compensate. Besides if I read the stats right, as we age we’re most likely to be injured or killed by a fall in the home. Does that mean we need to stop walking to the john or getting something high in the pantry?

    I say give Mr. K some recovery time to clear his head.

  16. Kathy Nolan Deschenes

    Dan, yes, I hear ya. My mom had surgery recently and the surgeon didn’t have one gray hair. I told my mom he seemed like a “nice kid.”

  17. Laurence Glavin

    Congratulations on having Northeastern U health insurance. If you were on your own, your policy would have been cancelled by now and you would have regretted not waiting until Thursday to need medical attention.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Laurence: A bit of an exaggeration, but yes, I’m incredibly grateful to have good insurance. Everyone should have what I’ve got regardless of employment status. That’s why I’m glad health-care reform passed, even if it doesn’t go far enough.

  18. Eoin O'Carroll

    I can relate. I was pedaling in the bike lane on Mass Ave. on Friday evening when some idiot stepped off the sidewalk right in front of me. I went down, cracking a couple ribs. The jaywalker, who blamed me for the crash, was unhurt. Actually, I should say “alleged” jaywalker; the cops declined to cite him. Me, I’ve been writhing in pain on my couch at home all week.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery. I hope you don’t give up riding your bike altogether. Spills aside, it’s a great way to get around.

  19. Kathy Cahill

    Sorry to hear about your shattered elbow! Consider trying Dragon Naturally Speaking to dictate text if you can’t type on your computer (I have nothing to do with the company). They have some promotional deals so you can buy it for about $100.

  20. Nial Lynch

    I know someone who recently added up her and NU’s health plan premium contributions and it was dangerously close to the soon to be taxable non-union, “gold-plated” status. That 80% benefit is sweet, though! Speedy recovery, Dan, but you might want to save some of those percs for Nov. 3rd.

  21. Peter Kent

    Ouch. Really sorry to hear this. Get better soon. And think about simply walking for exercise. Long walks each day are the key to a long and healthy life, according to my neighbor (who turned 103 in August and worked the crowd at her birthday party as well as anyone half her age!).
    P.S. I second your comments on Lahey Clinic. Great services, facilities, staff, nurses and doctors.

  22. C.E. Stead

    DK – before you stop riding, I have two words for you: recumbent bike.

  23. Lucy Sholley

    Poor Dan! Years ago during lunch hour I tripped over the Boston Garden’s little ankle-high fence, and held my salad aloft instead of bracing my fall with my hands. Two broken elbows. They still creak a little in rainy weather but otherwise are just fine. Get better soon! Lucy

    • Dan Kennedy

      Hi, @Lucy. Did you save the salads? That must have been quite an ordeal. Glad everything worked out for you, and hoping the same for me. Thank you for writing.

  24. Neil Sagan

    How do you wipe you ass with that cheese head on your arm? ;-P
    But seriously, best wishes for a quick recovery. And finally, should we consider putting the training wheels back on?

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Neil: I could be all wet on this, but I seem to recall that in traditional Arab-Muslim societies, hundreds of years ago, you ate with your right hand and wiped with your left. Since everyone ate communally, getting your right hand cut off for stealing was tantamount to the death penalty, or at least to extreme outlaw status. Hmmm … has anyone else heard that one?

  25. Eoin O'Carroll

    Dan, it’s not just in traditional Arab-Muslim societies, hundreds of years ago, but in contemporary socities all accross the mideast and the Indian subcontinent. As for “wiping,” much of the world still isn’t reaching for the Charmin. Instead, they just use their left hand and some soap and water. And around the world, even in, say, contemporary Seoul, where toilet paper is widely used and the commodes have microprocessors, it’s still very rude to hand someone something with your left hand.

    Something to ponder about as you experiemce the gastrointestinal side effects of the percoset!

  26. Mike LaBonte

    What I want to know is, how much are they trying to charge for that foam contraption? Let’s explore the cost of health care while you are in the belly of the beast.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Mike: Not sure I’ll ever see the bill, but if I do, I’ll be sure to look it up.

  27. Mike LaBonte

    And therein lies a key problem driving the cost of health care. Even when you do see the bill it will be difficult to decode, hard to figure out if all the charges are real and proper.

    When HIPPA was passed they made bills less informative, to “protect our privacy”. Before HIPPA my wife and I regularly spotted billing errors. Now we can’t.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Mike: Not to defend the medical-industrial complex. But even if this foam thing I’m wearing contains $1.98 worth of material, we have no way of knowing how much research may have gone into getting it just right.

  28. Patrick Ryan


    Sorry to learn of your bicyle accident and wish you a speedy recovery.

    As a Bostonian exiled to Madison, WI (it’s no Cambridge, let me tell you) for the past 7 years I read and admire your work. My first year in Madison I broke my elbow in a biking accident over the 4th of July. It was a long recovery period and when the cast first came off I wasn’t sure whether I’d ever raise my arm enough to eat or shave. I still have pins and wires in the elbow and despite the ocassional stiffness I manage to eat, shave and even throw a ball just fine. Lastly I’m a few years your senior and I still ride my bike (way better than the Y). Maybe we could elbow our way into next years Pan Mass Challenge Ride. We’d look at least as good as John Kerry did in his biking gear.

    Be well and do the physical therapy as hard as you work on your writing.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Patrick: Thank you so much. I do think I’m done biking, but I’m not done with being physically active.

  29. Wow, that’s some wild contraption! Hope you get better soon.

  30. Sasha Golden

    Dan — hope for a speedy recovery.

    Have you tried Dragon Naturally Speaking or some other voice recognition software? Sounds like you have the time now to train your computer.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Sasha: I’m hoping I can return to some limited two-handed-typing once I see the surgeon this Wednesday. If not, I guess I’ll have to look into it. Thanks.

  31. Elisabeth Lloyd

    Just stumbled across your blog and saw you are a patient of Dr. Marcantonio. You are in excellent hands – he saved my leg after a horrible fracture a few years ago. He may look 22, but he knows his stuff. He is a rare combination of an orthopedic trauma surgeon who actually takes the time to listen to his patients. Hope you feel better!

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Elisabeth: Thank you so much for checking in and sharing your story. Glad it had a happy ending. I am very impressed with Dr. Marcantonio — I’ll be seeing him again on Wednesday.

  32. Pat Danielson

    What fun to have a medical story without dire possibilites. Thanks for sharing your “Sponge Dan” photo. I assume it was taken by Tim Kennedy.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Hi, @Pat. Actually, that’s a Barbara Kennedy photo.

  33. Ah! A Carter Pillow! I just had to use one of those myself after having elbow surgery. It actually really helps. Also helps? Following doctor’s orders. Who knew!

    I have a 4 year old, we made a giraffe head for it and called it the swiss cheese giraffe.

  34. Rob Fine

    Maybe you’ll find a recumbent road bicycle helpful? I could also recommend an eliptical machine, but not for commuting!

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