Bush Sr. still in ICU, but ral­ly­ing

Fam­ily, care­givers ‘op­ti­mistic’ about former pres­i­dent.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Michael Graczyk

HOUS­TON — Former Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush re­mained in in­ten­sive care at a Hous­ton hospi­tal on Fri­day but his con­di­tion con­tin­ues to im­prove, a spokesman said.

“The pres­i­dent is alert and, as al­ways, in good spir­its — and his ex­changes with doc­tors and nurses now in­clude singing,” fam­ily spokesman Jim McGrath said in a brief state­ment.

Bush, 88, the na­tion’s old­est liv­ing former pres­i­dent, was ad­mit­ted at Methodist Hospi­tal in Hous­ton on Nov. 23 be­cause of a bron­chi­tis­re­lated cough, af­ter spend­ing about a week there ear­lier in Novem­ber for the same con­di­tion.

The cough was mostly re­solved by the time he was moved to in­ten­sive care Sun­day for treat­ment of a fever that doc­tors were hav­ing dif­fi­culty con­trol­ling.

“The Bushes thank ev­ery­one for their prayers and good wishes and, like their doc­tors, are cau­tiously op­ti­mistic that the cur­rent course of treat­ment will be ef­fec­tive,” McGrath said.

On Thurs­day, a long­time Bush aide tried to quell con­cern about Bush’s con­di­tion by say­ing the former pres­i­dent likely would ad­vise well-wish­ers to “put the harps back in the closet.”

Jean Becker, Bush’s Hous­ton chief of staff, said the former pres­i­dent would likely be in the hospi­tal for a while, not­ing his age and that “he had a ter­ri­ble case of bron­chi­tis which then trig­gered a se­ries of com­pli­ca­tions.”

Becker said “most of the civ­i­lized world” con­tacted her af­ter word spread that Bush had been placed in in­ten­sive care unit.

“Some­day Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush might re­al­ize how beloved he is, but of course one of the rea­sons why he is so beloved is be­cause he has no idea,” Becker said in the at-times light­hearted state­ment that made mul­ti­ple ref­er­ences to jokes and the former pres­i­dent’s sense of hu­mor.

Up­dates on his health are be­ing lim­ited out of re­spect for the fam­ily, she said.

The fam­ily had hoped Bush would have been well enough to spend Christ­mas at home. His cough eased, but he devel­oped a per­sis­tent fever. His con­di­tion has since been down­graded to “guarded.”

Bush was a naval avi­a­tor in World War II — at one point the youngest in the Navy — and was shot down over the Pa­cific. He’s sky­dived on at least three of his birthdays since leav­ing the White House, most re­cently when he turned 85.

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