The doctors at Houston Methodist Hospital said former President George H.W. Bush’s remarkable recovery is a testament to his inner strength and character just as much as to their medical team.
Physicians Amy Mynderse and Clint Doerr announced Monday morning that Bush will be moved from the intensive care unit to a regular floor and that his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, has been discharged from the hospital — but she’s still by his side.
“They truly do just have an amazing love for each other and that really came across here. Like I said, she ended up in the hospital trying to be by his bedside all the time,” Mynderse said at a press conference. “Other than sleeping in separate rooms, she has pretty much been sitting by his bedside most of the time.”
“They’re essentially therapy for each other,” Doerr added. “They help in our compliance. When one of them doesn’t want to take a breathing treatment, the other says, ‘Get on that!’ It helps our cause.”
The doctors said the Bushes are in great spirits and hopeful that he will be discharged by Feb. 5 so the family can host a Super Bowl party.
“When she’s not there, he’s looking for her,” Mynderse said. “When she can’t be down there, she’s [saying], ‘Let’s hurry up. Let’s get this antibiotic done. Let’s go,’ because she wants to go down there.”
Both doctors were impressed by the Bushes’ humility, gratitude and generosity. Mynderse said Bush was even surprised when she told him she was going to talk to the press about him.
“He doesn’t understand how loved he is, and her too,” she said. “They’re very grateful for the love that people show them and are just extremely humble, and a little bit awed by how beloved they are.”
“They never give any outward sign in terms of their behavior — let alone their requests — in terms of setting themselves on a pedestal,” Doerr said.
Bush suffers from an uncommon form of Parkinson’s disease that’s affected his lower body. It requires him to use a motorized wheelchair.
Mynderse acknowledged that it’s a serious situation whenever an older man with pneumonia needs to be intubated (treated with a tube) but said Bush is “not your average 92-year-old.”
Even when he had a breathing tube down his throat, Doerr recalled, Bush gave a thumbs-up to the medical team in the ICU — a testament to his intestinal fortitude.
The former president has bacterial pneumonia and is improving daily. Barbara Bush had viral bronchitis and was kept in the hospital for a few days as a precaution.
According to Mynderse, George H.W. Bush is now on minimal oxygen, laughing and joking with the doctors and nurses, sitting up to watch television and anxiously awaiting his favorite oyster stew for lunch. However, he is dealing with a fair amount of coughing, and the staff is still working to address that.
The doctors were reluctant to give an exact date for when he could go home. When treating patients in their 80s or 90s, doctors need to take extra precautions, adjust medication accordingly and take into consideration that the patient’s baseline strength will not be the same as that of a middle-aged person, according to Mynderse.
The physicians said Bush did not make any political statements while watching President Trump’s inauguration. But, just like any other proud father, he did point out his son when he appeared onscreen.
Marc L. Boom, the hospital’s president and CEO, said it’s been a privilege to care for the Bushes and that his hospital’s staff has the utmost respect for their family.
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