Schwarzenegger 'feeling great' after surgery
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs an order creating the Public Employee Post-Employment Benefits Commission in his hospital room in Santa Monica on Thursday. Schwarzenegger is recovering from leg surgery that followed a skiing accident in Idaho.
From Associated Press
6:34 PM PST, December 28, 2006
The Terminator is looking all too human these days.
The shattered leg that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger suffered in a fall on an icy ski slope was the latest in a list of injuries and ailments to befall the actor-bodybuilder-politician.
The seven-time Mr. Olympia whose broad shoulders and tree-trunk legs earned him the moniker "the Austrian Oak" has a medical chart you might find at a senior citizens' home.
Schwarzenegger, who turns 60 in July, has had a hip and a heart valve replaced. He had rotator cuff surgery in 2003. A rapid heartbeat sent him to a hospital last year. One motorcycle crash in 2001 left him with several broken ribs, and another last January resulted in 15 stitches in his lip.
Now he is on crutches while the right thigh bone he broke while skiing with his family over the holidays in Sun Valley, Idaho, heals. Doctors used screws and wires to repair his leg Tuesday, and he is expected to be released from the hospital by week's end.
Despite Schwarzenegger's travails, his doctor says he is in great shape for a man his age, though few details about the governor's condition are ever released. Schwarzenegger's office says such information is private.
The governor "is in excellent physical condition and his health is very good. He has fantastic muscle tone, excellent bone health and is in great cardiovascular shape. The governor's health is in the top 5 percent of people his age," said Dr. Kevin Ehrhart, his orthopedic surgeon.
His office Thursday released two photographs of the governor in his hospital bed, surrounded by monitors. He was dressed in hospital garb with a sheet covering his legs, and he appeared to be signing or editing documents. An intravenous tube was protruding from his right hand, and a laptop computer was perched at his bedside.
"I woke up feeling great," he said in a statement. He said he was looking forward to his inauguration next month "even if it means I have to walk into my swearing-in ceremony on crutches."
Schwarzenegger has carefully cultivated an image of vitality and strength, and his best-known Hollywood roles were built around his rippling biceps and deltoids.
In a tailored suit and a pair of his finely tooled cowboy boots, Schwarzenegger still looks younger than his 59 years. His cordovan hair appears impervious to gray, and his skin is remarkably smooth and unblemished for a man his age.
But he is not in the championship form of his youth. Photos surface occasionally showing a mushy midriff and arms that only faintly resemble the 22-inch biceps of his prime.
Schwarzenegger has acknowledged using steroids in his bodybuilding days, before they became illegal without a prescription in 1991. But he has never provided details about his usage, and it is unknown whether the drugs -- which can cause heart problems -- have had anything to do with any of his health problems.
Charles Yesalis, professor emeritus of health and human development at Penn State University and an expert on performance-enhancing drugs, said for someone who is athletic and not overweight, Schwarzenegger "appears to have a lot of health problems."
But "a lot of very healthy people who exercise a lot and look robust have bad health problems. It's hard to tie it together in any meaningful way," Yesalis said.
In addition to the physical toll exacted by professional bodybuilding, Schwarzenegger suffered his share of bangs and bruises in movie stunts.
At a 2005 appearance in front of medical workers in Burbank, Schwarzenegger credited nurses with making his hospital stays more tolerable.
"I was in the hospital three times in a row these last 10 years -- for open heart surgery, with a hip replacement and with shoulder surgery," the governor said at the time.
"This is what happens when you are the Terminator," he added. "They switch body parts."