November 30th, 2009 | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Multnomah County

Ted Wheeler Screams from His Hospital Bed (with Audio)

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In between calls to his staff and updating his Twitter account, Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler spoke with WW from St. Charles Hospital in Bend to say he's recovering from a ski accident at Mount Bachelor on Saturday.

Wheeler suffered two broken vertebrae and a broken shoulder in the fall. He says he doesn't expect he'll need surgery and hopes to return home to Portland later today.

"My progress is good," Wheeler says. "There's no permanent damage or anything like that. It just really hurts."

In fact, it may have been the most painful interview of his career. A nurse removed an IV needle while Wheeler spoke with WW by phone from his hospital bed. (Listen to the audio here.)

"I think this is the first interview I've ever given where someone's tearing a needle out of my arm," Wheeler said. "Aaaaaargh!"

Wheeler, a two-time triathlon contender, says he fell on a relatively easy ski run around 10 am Saturday morning — his third day on the slopes while visiting family in Sun River for Thanksgiving.

"I assure you I was not hot-dogging," Wheeler says. "I was skiing with my wife, and I'm pretty conservative."

Wheeler says he has no memory of his spill. He has a vague recollection of being transported to the hospital, but he can't recall whether it was in an emergency sled or ambulance. The next thing he remembers is waking up in bed.

"I honestly can't tell you what happened," Wheeler said. "I helped my wife tighten down her ski boots, and that was the last thing I remember."

Wheeler said he's already fielding calls from his staff and plans to continue telecommuting until he returns to work in person — perhaps as early as next week.

"I really don't want to overplay this. I'm not permanently damaged," Wheeler said. "I don't intend to inconvenience my staff or county employees with this."
 
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