HARVARD — Though summer is traditionally vacation season, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Jefferson is planning medical leave instead.
Jefferson said in a telephone interview on Tuesday that he’s anticipating back surgery — perhaps as soon as July 12 — to repair a ruptured spinal disk.
The condition has caused increasing amounts of pain in recent months, he said, to the extent where he can no longer run or exercise and normal tasks have become laborious.
“I’ve had an increasingly bad back for about three months,” he said. “This is a shot to get my old self back.”
Having learned a great deal on the topic in recent weeks, Jefferson described a properly functioning disk as a “cushion” between bone and nerves. Without that cushion, a great deal of discomfort ensues, he said.
The disk was likely damaged during a ski trip in March and was worsened by strenuous portions of his recent trip to China, said Jefferson.
Having considered and tried a number of treatment options, Jefferson said he’s comfortable surgery is the way to go in this case.
Jefferson expects to be out of the office for a week to 10 days, though he acknowledged a longer recovery time is a possibility.
School Committee Chairman Willie Wickman said Jefferson’s absence is expected to be brief enough that an interim manager won’t be needed for the district.
“It’s no different than him going away for a week’s vacation,” she said.
However, there’s a possible complication with blood clots, which were discovered during his series of medical evaluations, said Jefferson. At this point it’s unclear what effect — if any — they will have on the operation and recovery time.
Jefferson said the duration of his leave will likely hinge on how complicated the operation is, but added he likes working and isn’t expecting a lengthy absence.
“I guess the good thing about this line of work is I can lay down with my laptop computer and telephone and do a lot of what I do now,” he said.