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Metro

Menino, on upswing at last, breaks leg during fall

The mayor, shown in March, has endured a number of broken bones and other medical problems in recent years.

MATTHEW J. LEE/GLOBE STAFF

The mayor, shown in March, has endured a number of broken bones and other medical problems in recent years.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino, whose un­relenting health woes prompted him to ­announce two weeks ago that he would not seek reelection, broke a bone in his right leg Friday and will undergo surgery.

The 70-year-old Menino had seemed buoyant in recent weeks, at peace with his decision to leave office and living at home again in Readville after five months in hospitals and the Parkman House, a city-owned mansion with an elevator where he had convalesced ­after a serious illness.

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On Friday morning, Menino went to the Lee School in Dorchester to see an art exhibition for Autism Awareness month. The mayor was walking with his cane when he twisted his right ankle on his way into the school and fell to the ground, said his spokeswoman, Dot Joyce.

Menino left the school and was driven to City Hall, where he put ice on his ankle, Joyce said. It continued to radiate pain, so the police officers in his security team drove him to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Joyce said.

Menino fractured his fibula — one of the bones of the lower leg — and will have surgery Saturday to implant a plate and screws to set his leg. His spokeswoman said Menino’s fracture happened in the lower fibula, which forms part of the ankle joint. The fibula is the smaller of the two long bones in the leg.

“I’m sad and frustrated for him,” said Councilor Salvatore LaMattina, who has known Menino for decades. “Here’s a guy who gave 30 years of his life to the city, 20 years as mayor. I want him to enjoy his last months, going to the different neighborhoods, which he loves. Going out there with the people. . . . Now, he’s going to be tied up with his surgery and in a cast.”

Menino is expected to spend “a couple of days” in the hospital after surgery, Joyce said. She said she was not sure if he would be able to return to home or would go back to the Parkman House.

“He’s very frustrated, but overall he’s trying to make the best out of everything,” Joyce said. “As one of the doctors said to me, he’s had some back luck.”

Menino has endured a number of broken bones, serious infec­tions, and other medical problems in recent years. Days after winning a fifth term in 2009, Menino fell, severed a tendon in his knee, underwent surgery, and spent weeks on crutches.

The next year, Menino contracted a bacterial infection in his left elbow during a trip to ­Italy that required two stays in the hospital. Weeks later, doctors operated on his other knee, forcing him back on crutches. In early 2012, Menino broke a toe and had to wear a protective boot.

His most significant health scare came in October. He cut short a two-week trip to Italy with his wife because he felt ­severely weak and was diagnosed with a blood clot. ­Menino returned to Boston and was admitted to the hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with a severe respiratory infection. While hospitalized, he sustained a compression fracture in a spinal vertebra.

In a November press conference, Menino’s physicians, Dr. Dale Adler and Dr. Charles Morris, rejected the suggestion that the mayor may have an under­lying disorder that has made him more fragile.

Weeks later, Menino was ­diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, a chronic disease that doctors detected after an unusual infection developed near his spine. Diabetes can make people more susceptible to infection, doctors said at the time.

Menino spent another five weeks at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and was released days before Christmas. He moved to the Parkman House for three months because he had difficulty with stairs at his home. He returned to Readville on March 23.

Menino had been upbeat and seemed determined to finish his term strong. With his health improving, he seemed wistful and at ease in City Hall.

This week, he teased the pack of city councilors running to succeed him and introduced his final budget with a tongue-in-check video that was produced to look like a faux movie trailer.

On Friday, after Menino sustained the leg injury, Joyce said doctors had told her there was nothing about the mayor’s health that made him more susceptible to injury.

“All of those things are things we are all asking,” Joyce said. “They keep telling me no.”

Lawrence S. DiCara, a former City Council president and longtime watcher of local politics, said Menino’s administration kept Boston running smoothly during his last hospital stay.

“I don’t think people should panic; he’s got a good team,” DiCara said. “John Collins was mayor of Boston for eight years and most of that time was sitting in a wheelchair. Nobody ever questioned his ability to govern.”

Andrew Ryan can be reached at acryan@globe.com.
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