Mayor Thomas M. Menino was at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, recovering from surgery to repair a broken leg, when the news arrived: Explosions had rocked the finish line of the Boston Marathon. There were deaths, injuries, destruction.
The mayor left the hospital and headed toward Copley Square, to meet with his aides and to brief the media.
“He was temporarily released from the hospital to get briefed by his team,” said Menino’s spokeswoman, Dot Joyce. “He was able to speak directly to our first responders and state and federal partners.”
After doing that, Menino returned to the Brigham to continue his recovery and was expected to spend Monday night there, Joyce said.
The mayor had begun physical therapy at the hospital after undergoing surgery over the weekend to repair a broken bone in his leg, his spokeswoman said. The mayor broke his right leg Friday while walking into a Dorchester school.
Joyce said the mayor was walking Monday as part of his therapy and wearing a pressurized air boot and using crutches.
“He just had surgery, so he can put some weight on the ankle, which is why they did the surgery in the first place,” Joyce said. “He’s taking it one day at a time.”
The broken leg snapped a short-lived interval of good health, which saw Menino back in the neighborhoods and back at his home in the Readville section of Hyde Park after recovering from a series of illnesses that left him hospitalized for several months last year.
Menino’s chronic health conditions — Type 2 diabetes and a gastrointestinal condition called Crohn’s disease — may have made him more susceptible to the ankle break and a compression fracture he experienced in his spine last October. “Those with these conditions tend to have poorer quality bone,” said Dr. Anthony Sorkin, an orthopedic trauma surgeon at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis.
Diabetes often prevents tiny blood vessels from delivering adequate nutrients to bones to allow them to replace minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which are lost through a constant tearing down and rebuilding process. Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune condition, is typically treated with steroids to control inflammation; overuse of steroids can cause severe bone loss, Sorkin said. These medications can also delay bone healing, so doctors must often decide whether to keep patients with broken bones on their Crohn’s therapy or to stop it temporarily. It is not known whether Menino is currently taking steroids for his Crohn’s.
“You want to do everything you can to create an environment where there’s the best chance of the bone healing,” Sorkin said, but it is often a difficult trade-off since it risks a dangerous flare-up of inflammation in the intestines.
The 70-year-old mayor, who announced in March that he would not seek a sixth term, had appeared exuberant in recent weeks while attending events around the city, cane in hand.
He suffered this most recent injury on his way to an Autism Awareness month event at the Lee School in Dorchester, when he slipped and twisted his ankle while entering the building.
Surgeons placed a metal plate and screws in Menino’s leg during a one-hour operation Saturday to reinforce his broken fibula, which they expect will require the mayor to use crutches for several months, doctors said after the surgery.
“It is our expectation that Mayor Menino will make a full and complete recovery,” the doctors said.