Tampa City Council chairman Charlie Miranda recovering from surgery
TAMPA — After three surgeries and about three weeks in intensive care, City Council chairman Charlie Miranda this week moved to a Tampa General Hospital room for the next stage of a recovery that's taken longer than expected.
Miranda, 70, went into the hospital in mid-July for the repair of a hernia that had allowed part of his stomach to protrude through an opening in his diaphragm.
Since then, he said he has had two more surgeries after doctors found scar tissue and tiny holes that allowed bacteria to leak from his stomach and lung.
"I would never have anticipated this," Miranda said in an interview Thursday. He said he thinks his recovery could last, at the hospital or at home, until late September.
Miranda had surgery for a similar hernia in 2005. He went in to the hospital again this summer after he started losing weight.
"About April, I started feeling bad, and I knew there was something wrong," he said.
The recovery has taken longer and been more involved than he expected. He expects to remain on antibiotics for several weeks and to continue with rehabilitation.
"Yesterday, I walked 75 feet one way and 75 feet back," he said. "You'd have thought I won the Athens marathon."
This week, Miranda has talked with his doctors about the idea of getting outside for some fresh air.
"I said, 'Listen, I'll walk for you, but you've got to give me something in return,' " he said.
While Miranda, who has been elected to council six times since the 1970s, has been out, council member Mary Mulhern has chaired council meetings.
On Aug. 4, Mulhern paused during the council meeting "to give a shout out to Chairman Miranda in case he's watching."
"We miss him, and he better get better fast," she said. "I'm getting used to sitting here. I thought that would motivate him to get back here."
In Miranda's absence, his legislative aide, Mary Bryan, has worked with city staff to follow up on constituent calls and letters to his office. And she has asked other council members to fill in for Miranda at community events.
"They've all been very generous with their time," Bryan said. She also meets regularly with City Council attorney Martin Shelby "so nothing falls through the cracks."
Not clear yet is whether Miranda will have recovered enough to accompany a baseball team of men around his age to Cuba, where Miranda played as a 13-year-old pitcher on a youth team from Cuscaden Park.
Miranda has worked for months to arrange the trip, which is expected to take place late this year, and said a man from Boston is now coordinating arrangements.
"I can only tell you this: I know they're going to go," Miranda said, a baseball glove on the table next to his chair in his hospital room. He has bought and stockpiled baseball gear, including 32 pairs of spikes, to take and give away to impoverished players in Cuba.
"If I go, I'd like to take my two sisters with me, take them to see where my father was born," he said.