Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said Friday that his eye injuries remain so severe that doctors can't yet determine whether his full vision will be restored.
Reid suffered at least three broken ribs and broke several bones around his right eye last week while exercising at his suburban Las Vegas home. The injuries kept him from coming to Capitol Hill this week for the start of the 114th Session of Congress.
Speaking from Washington, where he's on doctors' orders to stay home and recover, Reid said doctors are "very hopeful" he will have full vision, but "This isn’t anything that’s a slam dunk. I had a serious injury in my eye, there’s blood accumulation there and they’re hoping it resolves itself. As long as there’s blood in my eye, it’s hard to see."
He explained in great detail for KNPR's "State of Nevada" radio program how the injuries happened during one of his regular, intense workout routines:
"Three days a week I have an exercise routine. I do 250 situps, I some yoga-type stuff for a little while and then I’ve been using for the last three or [so] plus years, these bands. I use one that’s the second-strongest you can get, it’s dark grey. Anyway, I do those things hundreds of times three days a week. I do different routines. And I was doing almost finished at my new home in Nevada and the band broke and it catapulted me backwards and to one side. I crashed into a series of cabinets we have and fortunately it missed my temple by just a little tiny bit and it hit me in my right eye and it broke a number of bones around my right eye and broke four ribs and a few bruises other places."
Reid said that he remains in close touch with Senate colleagues and had spoken several times on Friday with his two lieutenants, Sens. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). Doctors have ordered him not to travel to Baltimore next week for the annual Senate Democratic policy retreat, so he said he will continue working from his downtown Washington home.
The biggest change, he added, is relying on staffers to read him documents or emails: "If you have one bad eye and one good eye and you overwork that good eye, it puts too much pressure on the bad eye."
"I went out and walked yesterday. Today I’ve walked for 25 minutes, but I’m not going to win any walking contests when I’m out walking," he added.
Reid strongly disputed suggestions by pundits and critics that he's now incapable of leading the caucus.
"I don't know how many people out there could sit and do 250 sit-ups. Or do the strength and exercise routines I did with those bands hundreds of times, there times a week," he told the interviewer.
When asked, Reid said that the accident doesn't change his plans to seek reelection in 2016: "No, not really. No, no."