Looney recovering after hip replacement

June 15, 2017

DERBY — “Resting comfortably” is probably not the best description of state Senate President Martin M. Looney of New Haven, since the veteran lawmaker never seems to relax, let alone actually rest.

The 68-year-old Looney, you might recall, was the Democratic leader whose kidney-transplant surgery in late December should have ruled him out of at least the Opening Day ceremonies of the General Assembly on January 4. Nope, he was there, assuring the 18-18 party deadlock and attending the governor’s State of the State message.

So there he was in Griffin Hospital on Thursday, 24-hours after a hip-joint replacement, with Ellen, his wife of 36 years by his side, promising that the 90-minute procedure by Dr. Philip A. Minotti, an orthopedic specialist, won’t be a further set back to the already-stalled negotiations over the new Connecticut budget scheduled to take effect in about two weeks.

“The hip had been bothering me for more than a year actually and at the same time, obviously, I had deteriorating kidney function,” Looney said from a chair next to his bed Thursday morning after his first excursion down the hall, testing the new equipment. “So the doctor said I would have to deal with the kidney first before they could do anything about the hip, and I would have to wait six months after the kidney surgery before having the hip done.”

Medication he had taken over the decades for a form of rheumatoid arthritis, first diagnosed when he was 15, was believed to be the cause of the hip degeneration. By the time he was in his early 20s, the arthritis - called ankylosing spondylitis - settled in his back and upper neck. The stiffness is his neck, however, has remained over the decades, giving the lawyer a stooped appearance and hindering his ability to turn his head.

He recalled that the worst flare-up of the arthritis occurred during the summer of 1969, just before his senior year at Fairfield University, when the New Haven native thought about taking some time off.

“A friend of mine, also from New Haven, drove me to class every day, so by the end of the semester I was starting to feel better,” Looney said, recalling that the following spring, at the height of the Vietnam War, he got called for his Selective Service physical. “At first they weren’t going to give me a deferment and I said, sheesh, you should have seen me six months ago when I couldn’t have walked in here.”

Looney expects to be back in the Capitol before the end of the month to contribute directly to the budget negotiations that are mostly at the staff level since the General Assembly missed its June 7 deadline to bridge the projected $5-billion deficit for the two-year budget that starts July 1.

kdixon@ctpost.com; Twitter: @KenDixonCT