Since he took office in 2016, Carson Dailey, the Knox County commissioner representing District 9, has been Johnny-on-the-spot, taking care of his constituents and vigorously attending government and community meetings and all events affecting his South Knox district.
But since mid-November, he has been a man of mystery, nearly invisible – though not by choice.
Dailey, 59, had two knee-replacement surgeries last year. The first, on his left knee, went smoothly last summer. The right knee, however, hit some roadblocks.
After the surgery on Oct. 3, something didn’t feel right. In therapy, he tore some scar tissue, which increased his pain.
“The pain was so bad about the middle of November that I couldn’t go to a lot of events,” he says.
On Dec. 6, he found out the surgical area was infected.
“It was infected from the beginning,” Dailey says. “It never did heal.”
So he had another surgery to undo the first surgery. He was in the hospital for six days and in rehabilitation at Life Care Center of Blount County for 31 days. There, he was kept busy with physical therapy twice a day and IV antibiotics being administered three times a day.
He’s home now, with wife Tammy administering the IV.
“I still have another week to go,” he says. “After I do the IVs, I’ve gotta spend two weeks on oral antibiotics. Then I’ve got to stay off completely for two weeks. And then they’ll schedule a surgery.
“So we’re looking at probably March before I get a knee surgery.”
While Dailey has done a good job keeping up with his commission work by email and cellphone, he’s frustrated that he hasn’t been able to be out in public. Not only does he perform the duties of his elected office, but he also serves on several nonprofit boards and is active in his homeowners’ association.
“I’m still doing my emails and answering calls about Tom Boyd (who announced last week that he wants to build a fantasyland resort in South Knox),” he says jokingly, “so I’m doing half of my commission work anyway. Or maybe a third of it.
“But I’ve missed my first-ever commission meetings. I’ve missed ribbon cuttings and groundbreakings and homeowners’ events. That’s the worst part about this – I don’t get to serve my people.”
Some of them have made sure he didn’t feel forgotten, especially at Christmastime. In addition to family and friends, constituents and other county commissioners visited and called him in rehab. Mayor Glenn Jacobs texted him.
Great Schools Partnership site coordinators Janine Al-Aseer and Kara Strouse, who serve New Hopewell and Dogwood elementary schools, respectively, brought a friend to keep Dailey company at rehab – a large stuffed toy bear – as well as bright red poinsettias. Smaller gifts and cards also brightened his rehab room, and some homemade fudge satisfied his sweet tooth.
There is one upside to his travails that will inform his work with a certain group of constituents in the future, he says.
“It’s given me more perspective on people who have gone through something like this, people in nursing homes and in wheelchairs,” he says. “I’ve got a whole different perspective on their life.”