After Surgery, Senator Has 'Boot Camp' Rehab

August 07, 2009|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski took off for the Senate on Thursday afternoon to cast her vote for Judge Sonia Sotomayor, after leaving Mercy Medical Center in downtown Baltimore, where she had undergone ankle surgery July 27 and what she called rehabilitation "boot camp."

From a wheelchair, she said, "My vote will be cast for her" and called the Supreme Court nominee "my fellow Nancy Drew reader."

The senator described how she fell on steps after leaving a July 19 afternoon Mass at the Basilica of the Assumption. The fall caused her ankle to break in three places.

"I had come down the first set of steps and was able to get to Cathedral Street when a homeless woman called out to me," Mikulski said. "I was holding the rail, turned my head and went down. She didn't abandon me, but stayed with me and summoned help."

Mikulski used her news conference Thursday to press for health care reform. "I want everybody to have a medical home," she said, adding that after her surgery, she returned to the hospital for extensive rehabilitation, including push-ups and lifting weights. "I'm ready to stand on my feet to get health insurance for everybody."

She said she had spoken to Senate colleagues daily using a BlackBerry, adding that she was keeping an eye on funds for the Red and Purple light rails in Baltimore and the Washington suburbs. Responding to questions, she vowed to endorse the "cash for clunkers" auto stimulus program and lauded the release of visas for temporary seafood workers in Maryland's seafood industry.

Her surgeon, Dr. Clifford Jeng, predicted a "full recovery" from the trimalleolar break. He said she could not put any weight on her ankle for another six weeks. He said she would have to wear a surgical boot for 12 weeks while continuing the sessions of physical therapy.

He added that she was "incredibly tough" and abandoned pain pills "before most people would."

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