Emanuel on crutches after knee surgery

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel | Sun-Times file photo

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was hobbling around and using crutches Friday after having out-patient knee surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus suffered while working out.

The 59-year-old retiring mayor rises at 5:30 a.m. for an exercise regimen fit for a Marine.

Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, he swims a mile and does a lot of his most important “noodling.” Monday and Tuesday, he caps it off with a 15-minute ride on a stationary bike.

Wednesday and Friday, it’s 35 minutes on the bike or elliptical machine, followed by a weight and sit-up routine. On Saturday and Sunday morning, it’s yoga with different instructors.

He’s frequently seen running during the early-morning hours with police recruits. He’s done the Polar Plunge and competed in a triathlon.

The mayor’s office did not disclose what kind of exercise Emanuel was doing when he suffered the knee injury or whether it was simply the stress placed on his knee from years of exercise.

They would only say the out-patient knee surgery to repair a “slight tear in his meniscus” took roughly 30 minutes.

The surgery did not prevent Emanuel from joining Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday afternoon to announce an expansion of the mayor’s treasured universal pre-K initiative that faces an uncertain fate under either Lori Lightfoot or Toni Preckwinkle.

“He is here today, which shows his commitment after – I guess everybody knows by now – that he had surgery today,” said Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson.

“This just shows how near and dear this is to his heart that he would not even miss this announcement because this really is a cornerstone of his administration and really his philosophy around public education.”

Jackson also joked about the fact that Emanuel was on pain-killing medication.

“I’m here to make sure he doesn’t say anything that he’s not supposed to say. And I have [Emanuel’s wife] Amy here to back me up. So I think we’re all set,” she said.

With that, Emanuel hobbled up to the podium leaving his crutches behind him. Wife Amy and daughter Leah, a college student home for spring break, were seated in the front row at John T. Pirie Fine Arts and Academic Center, 650 E. 85th Street.

“I do want you to know that on the ride down, Amy said that if the medication wears off, Leah is supposed to go over and unplug the microphone as quickly as possible, so I don’t say exactly what I’ve been trying to say for eight years,” the mayor said, laughing out loud.

Gov. Pritzker, whose record block grant paved the way for the pre-school expansion, couldn’t resist a playful jab about the mayor’s knee surgery.

“You know, at the last event when I told you to break a leg,” he didn’t mean it, Pritzker said.

Emanuel picked up on the joke from the front row, “as a pure ballet dancer.”

Prtizker replied, “I’m the one who should break a leg, if we’re gonna dance.”

The pre-school announcement also included Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus, who is fighting for his life in an April 2 runoff.

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