Cleveland Indians Manager Overcomes Chronic Pain For Another World Series
It wasn’t long ago that Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona was barely able to walk due to severe chronic pain, but the 57-year-old has made a significant recovery without the use of painkillers and has helped lead his team to the World Series for the first time in nearly 20 years.
After knee replacement surgeries in the early 2000s, complications from the procedure resulted in staph infections and blood clots. During one extended hospitalization in 2002, his right leg nearly had to be amputated. During that time, Francona became dependent on powerful painkillers including Percocet and Oxycodone.
“There were a couple of nights in the hospital where I was thinking, ‘I can’t take this anymore.’ The nurses would come running in because I’d stop breathing. I was in bad shape. There were people around who did not think I was going to make it,” he wrote in his autobiography Francona: The Red Sox Years. “I lived on [pain medication] at that time. “When I left the hospital, I was on heavy-duty drugs and it was tough.”
Although he resumed his managing career and helped lead the Boston Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007, his excessive painkiller use started to become a concern. Although he denied that there were any issues publically, the breaking point came when his daughter found a bottle in his home with 100 Percocet pills. At her insistence, he entered a drug treatment program and began working with a pain management specialist.
Although Francona has largely avoided or talking about his personal issues, instead preferring to keep the spotlight on his players, he now manages his chronic pain with blood thinning medication, as well as compression sleeves that improve blood circulation. Most importantly, taking control of his health has allowed to fully focus on the job he feels so passionately about.
“I have no perspective. I love doing this,” he joked to USA Today in 2013. “Sometimes it kills you, but I don’t want to do anything else. I’m addicted to it.”