Kelowna Coun. Charlie Hodge, back in his seat at City Hall Monday six weeks after major jaw surgery.—Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Kelowna councillor back at city hall six weeks after major surgery

Charlie Hodge had part of his jaw replaced after an infection stemming from impacted teeth

Kelowna city Coun. Charlie Hodge was back in his chair in council chambers at City Hall Monday, six weeks after major surgery to replace part of his jaw.

Hodge, who had three inches of bone removed from the tibia in his right leg and used to replace a section of jawbone removed earlier this year in another surgery, said he was determined to meet his self-imposed timeline of returning to council by the beginning of December.

“(The doctors) said pace yourself. They didn’t say whose pace,” Hodge said with a smile Monday afternoon.

Saying he feels lucky to be alive, Hodge explained the piece of bone taken from his leg is now bolted to a second titanium plate to form a reconstructed section of his jaw. The procedure was part of an 8 1/2-hour surgery Oct. 25 at Kelowna General Hospital.

The first plate—installed in the earlier surgery—was removed.

Hodge said while the pain in his jaw is starting to subside, the pain in his leg—where the bone graft was removed—is still very painful. He walks with limp and the aid of a cane. He said he currently only has feeling in part of his right leg.

Despite that, he told his council colleagues he considers himself to be the “luckiest man in the world” and publicly thanked his doctors and KGH staff for his care, his wife Teresa for her support and the public for their prayers and good wishes when he was in hospital.

“I got cards and texts from people I don’t even know,” said Hodge. “It’s very humbling.”

Related story: Hodge: Memo from paradise, aka KGH

Hodge, who writes a popular weekly column in the Capital News and as been writing for the paper since the late 1970s, said shortly after his surgery in October, he reached the point where he felt he could not go on. The pain, and the surgeries, were just too much.

“I woke up one night and said to my myself, ‘okay, I quit.’ I didn’t think I could go on,” he said.

But a few nights later, his fighting spirit returned.

“I woke up that night and I said ‘no, damn it.”

While his voice is still affected by the tracheotomy he underwent while in hospital, Hodge spoke up several times during Monday’s council meeting. He kept up with what was going on at city hall while in hospital and had council agenda packages sent to him at KGH while he was recovering so he could stay abreast of what was gong on.

He was determined to be back at city hall in time to participate in council’s annual budget deliberations, scheduled for Dec. 14.

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