After serious injury, Sensenbrenner is back on the job

By Bill Glauber of the Journal Sentinel

Sept. 12, 2012 3:58 p.m.

Ask U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner how he's feeling these days and the Menomonee Falls Republican responds, "Well, probably not as good as you, but pretty good."

Sensenbrenner is back on the job in Congress after sustaining a fractured and dislocated right hip.

The break occurred when he fell Aug. 25 during a church festival at St. Agnes Parish in Butler.

"I tripped over a cable that went from a building to power the kids' carnival rides there," Sensenbrenner said during a Wednesday telephone interview from Washington, D.C.

"I went down and I knew I had a serious injury almost from the beginning because I couldn't straighten my leg out," he said.

The following day, Sensenbrenner underwent six hours of surgery at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa. He said the surgery was performed by Gregory Schmeling, the professor of orthopedic surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

He was discharged Sept. 8 and later returned to Washington.

"I'm in a wheelchair now and I use a walker," Sensenbrenner said. "What I can say is that a lot of the pain is gone but the only way these kinds of fractures can heal is naturally. When I got out of surgery, the doctor said I had between eight and 12 weeks of being not able to put much weight on my right foot."

Sensenbrenner, 69, was first elected to the House in 1978. He is running for re-election against Democrat Dave Heaster.

Asked how much campaigning he'll do and Sensenbrenner said, "That's up to the doctors."

"I'm not going to push it because pushing it is going to mean that the healing is not going to be good enough for what the Froedtert doctor said, which is getting me back to full strength," Sensenbrenner said.

But by making it back to Washington, Sensenbrenner said he kept intact his record of not missing a vote this year.

He added that when he appeared on the House floor earlier this week, he received a warm welcome from many colleagues, including House Speaker John Boehner.

Sensenbrenner also said shortly after the fall, he got a call on his cellphone while being ferried in an ambulance.

The person on the other line was Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, a GOP member of the House from Janesville.

"Paul and I had been very close friends ever since he got to Congress," Sensenbrenner said. "It shows what type of a quality person he is if he was able to take a break and call up and see how I was."