HOUSTON — Former President George H.W. Bush has been discharged from a Houston hospital Monday after nearly two months of treatment for illness that began as a bronchitis-related cough.
Bush, the nation’s oldest living president, has been hospitalized since Nov. 23, including a week in intensive care last month. Along with the stubborn cough, he was treated for a bacterial infection and high fever.
"I am deeply grateful for the wonderful doctors and nurses at Methodist who took such good care of me," said President Bush in a written statement. "Let me add just how touched we were by the many get-well messages we received from our friends and fellow Americans. Your prayers and good wishes helped more than you know, and as I head home my only concern is that I will not be able to thank each of you for your kind words."
Spokesman Jim McGrath said Bush, 88, would go to his west Houston home.
Bush had already been in the hospital for about a month before he was moved to the intensive care unit. Physicians were having difficulty controlling a fever that developed after the cough improved.
"Even when he was in ICU, he was singing to his nurses," McGrath said. "And so it’s just the way he is, the kind of man he is, the way he’s lived his life—always charging ahead."
Bush was moved back to a regular hospital room on December 29. Since then, his condition has continued to improve and he has been undergoing physical therapy to rebuild his strength.
"Mr. Bush has improved to the point that he will not need any special medication when he goes home, but he will continue physical therapy," Amy Mynderse, the doctor in charge of Bush’s care, said in Monday’s statement.
"He is the most relentlessly positive person with the possible exception of his physical therapy, that’s not his favorite time of the day," McGrath said. "But he understands the value of it, and so he’s very diligent about it. He’s been a model patient."
McGrath admitted Bush is still pretty weak.
"When you’ve been in the hospital seven weeks you lose a little bit of strength, wind taken out of your sails and so I think that’s the main area that they’re focusing on to get a little pep back in his step," he said.
McGrath said the former president watched part of the Texans game against the Patriots Sunday.
"He was disappointed in the outcome, like we all were, but he was so proud of the team. And I know a lot of it had to do with the fact the team represented the city so incredibly well," McGrath said. "The final score didn’t reflect it, but he’s proud of the classy organization that the Texans have become and like all of he’s excited for the future he can’t wait for next season."
Bush has had several visits from family members throughout his hospitalization, including former President George W. Bush and even his pet dogs.
The nation’s oldest living ex-president and his wife, Barbara, spend winters in Houston and summers at their home in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Bush and his wife, Barbara, live in Houston during the winter and spend their summers at a home in Kennebunkport, Maine. On Jan. 6, they celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary. They are the longest-married presidential couple.
Bush had served two terms as Ronald Reagan’s vice president when he was elected in 1988 to be the nation’s 41st president. Four years later, after a term highlighted by the success of the 1991 Gulf War in Kuwait, he lost to Democrat Bill Clinton amid voter concerns about the economy.
Bush has a long record of service, beginning with his enlistment in the Navy in World War II. At one point, he was the nation’s youngest naval aviator. He was shot down in the Pacific and rescued by an American submarine. He’s also been a congressman from Texas, U.S. ambassador to China and CIA director.
The former president suffers from a form of Parkinson’s disease that has forced him in recent years to use a motorized scooter or wheelchair to get around.