Friday, December 29, 2006

Latest From Tim Johnson's Office

Here's the latest statement from the office of Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), who suffered a brain hemorrhage two weeks ago:
Thursday, December 28, 2006

Washington, DC. On U.S. Senator Tim Johnson's 60th birthday, he remains in the intensive care unit at George Washington University Hospital and is surrounded by his family.

"Senator Johnson's overall general medical condition has improved and he is gradually being weaned from the sedation," said Vivek Deshmukh, MD, neurosurgeon at The George Washington University Hospital. "He is opening his eyes and is responsive to his wife." It is anticipated that Senator Johnson will undergo further testing in the coming days. He remains in critical condition.

"Tim continues to give us great hope. His tests are encouraging and he has been responding to me. While we were both looking forward to celebrating his 60th birthday with our family and friends, I know the celebration is just postponed. Two of our children were able to be with Tim and me today, and we continue to appreciate the birthday wishes and prayers he has received, as well as the excellent care that he is receiving from everyone at George Washington University Hospital," said Barbara Johnson, wife of Senator Johnson.
I had emergency brain surgery myself two years ago and, while I was listed as "critical" and in the ICU for three days following the procedure, I got the sense that it was primarily for precautionary and liability reasons as I spent most of that time drinking Starbucks coffee, eating microwave popcorn, watching football on TV and complaining that I wanted to be discharged.

This is clearly not the case with Senator Johnson, who turned 60 yesterday.

Johnson's spokeswoman, Julianne Fisher, said that the South Dakota Democrat continues to improve, but won’t be present for the first week of the new Congressional session.

There has been little information released about Johnson's overall condition or his prospects for a full recovery which, in purely political terms, leaves open a nasty scenario. South Dakota's GOP Governor would likely appoint a Republican to fill Johnson's seat if he resigns and create a 50-50 Senate, turning effective control back to the Republicans -- and how messed up is that thought after working so hard to defeat that ugly crew?

While there are many precedents of U.S. Senators holding onto their seats for lengthy periods during health problems, Dr. Keith Siller, director of the Comprehensive Stroke Care Center at NYU Medical Center, said that Johnson's slow recovery -- and the fact that he is still sedated -- is a cause for concern.

Said Siller: "The two-week period is longer than I would be happy with."