Q. Where is KMOV-TV's Larry Conners? I hope he hasn't retired or left.
-- Bonnie Runner, of O'Fallon; Greg Gauch, of Belleville; et al.
A. Larry Conners "pitches" only news stories on camera, but that hasn't kept the popular St. Louis anchor from a common malady of pro baseball hurlers: a badly mangled rotator cuff.
And, not just once, but twice. About four years ago, Conners went MIA to have surgery on his left shoulder. It proved worse than thought, but the 27-year KMOV veteran returned in a month -- much earlier than his doctors advised.
"Dr. Rick Lehman told me that the MRI showed that it was bad, (but) once we got into surgery, he found it much worse," Conners wrote at the time. "My biceps were 'shredded.'
"He did say that he didn't know how I put up with the pain as long as I have. I did it probably the way many of you handle pain ... you just keep going and raising your pain tolerance until you can't go any more."
Last year, Conners found his right rotator cuff giving him so much grief that he could go on no longer again. So, on Dec. 11, Conners signed off the 10 p.m. news and went into surgery the next day. He knew the recovery wasn't going to be pretty, but it has turned out worse than he imagined -- although he flashes his sense of humor.
"Had to go back yesterday for a shoulder (pain) block as pain meds weren't effective," he updated viewers on Dec. 19. "Best comparison was multiple Taser shots. Nerves jumping uncontrollably with intense pain as they try to find right spot. They did a good job but excruciating. Next time, I'll just ask for the Taser."
Two weeks later, Conners found himself heading toward a pain-filled New Year's Eve.
"Pain meds just aren't working," he tapped out at 5:32 a.m. Dec. 30. "When they do, I feel pretty fine ... think I could go for another ride on a Blue Angels F18 or go bull riding .. maybe even take on a Taser. As they wear off, I'm reminded ... this is your brain and this is your brain on drugs."
By early January, Conners' Facebook posts had disappeared. Infection had set in, and the West Texas State grad headed back to the operating room for a second surgery. He was still hoping to get back on the air by early February, but doctors were scratching their heads.
"Pain meds not as effective this morning," he wrote long before daybreak on Jan. 19. "Returned to the doc yesterday. Rotator cuff surgery cuts slow to close, but infection specialist says cultures not giving any answers.
"(I) will say if you need the surgery, don't let my setback dissuade you. The first time around doc said, 'You'll know you need surgery when you can't get through the night.'"
Just when Conners will return to your living room is still uncertain. His last health update was a week ago when he said he was still in pain, but the infection seemed to be improving and that he hoped to be back on the News4 set "soon." Until then, you can follow his posts (don't miss his Jan. 18 story about his high school SAT score) and send him your best at www.facebook.com/LarryConnersKMOV.
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Answer to Tuesday's trivia: He might have been Italy's ruling fascist for 20 years, but Benito Mussolini had a socialist start. In fact, his father, a blacksmith, named him "Benito" after Benito Juarez, a Mexican reformist. His middle names -- Amilcare and Andrea -- honored Andrea Costa and Amilcare Cipriani, two well-known 19th century Italian socialists.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or email@example.com