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The harrowing tale of Bobby Jenks

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  February 23, 2012 09:28 AM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. Red Sox reliever Bobby Jenks filled in some details about his medical issues this morning and it's quite a tale.

After recovering from a pulmonary embolism, Jenks traveled to Boston and had surgery on his spine on Dec. 12 at Massachusetts General Hospital. After recovering, he returned to his home in Arizona.

Then, on Dec. 30, Jenks had emergency surgery because of complications related to the first procedure.

"I don't know whose fault it was. But there was an error done inside," said Jenks, who landed on the disabled list twice last season because of back pain. "I had four bone spurs on my spine. We talked about taking the top two out. The third one was started and not finished. So basically there was a serrated edge that sliced me open in two different spots and I was leaking spinal fluid."

Jenks said the fluid pooled at the bottom of his incision and was constantly leaking. When he went to get it checked, he was rushed into surgery that day.

"It kind of blew up on me," he said. "It caused an infection to climb up that incision wound. So now I had an infection in my spine. It was a combination of everything that could have gone wrong went wrong.

"If I didn't have it done immediately, the infection could've gotten into my spinal fluid and up to my brain. Who knows what happens then? I could obviously not be here right now."

Jenks said he was in "excruciating" pain before the second surgery and going through it was "very, very painful." He described it as being far worse than any migraine headache.

Jenks now has a long red scar on the middle of his back, about seven inches long.

"My muscles were so torn open, I was basically laid up in bed and couldn't function," Jenks said.

Jenks does not know for sure if he will be able to pitch again this season. Signed to a two-year, $12 million deal before the 2011 season, he appeared in only 19 games last season. He has not tried to throw a ball since last year. His hope is to return to the team later in the season.

"It has been incredibly frustrating," he said.

As he went through this ordeal, Jenks has lost a lot of weight. He did not give a number, saying only that he lost "enough." But it appears to be 30 or 40 pounds, perhaps even more. He doesn't look like the same person.

Jenks was asked if he is considering legal action.

"That's why I got people," he said. "I let them worry about that. If there's something there I'll let them take care of it. My job is to get better. That's what I'm going to focus on."

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