Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), who is still recuperating from a debilitating stroke last year, will likely be hospitalized “for a few weeks” while getting treatment for clinical depression, NBC News reporter Ryan Nobles reported on the Today Show Friday morning. Fetterman checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Wednesday night according to his office.
Fetterman was hospitalized for several days after attending the State of the Union address for tests after he reported feeling lightheaded. All tests were reported to be negative and and Fetterman returned to work at the Senate where he participated in a committee hearing on Wednesday:
“A senior aide told NBC News that Fetterman, 53, will likely remain in inpatient care for clinical depression for “a few weeks.””
Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., “checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to receive treatment for clinical depression,” his chief of staff, Adam Jentleson, said. @ryanobles reports on the latest. pic.twitter.com/NOfB2og0aL
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) February 17, 2023
Fetterman’s wife Gisele issued a statement on Thursday asking for privacy.
This is a difficult time for our family, so please respect our privacy. For us, the kids come first.
Take care of yourselves. Hold your loved ones close, you are not alone.
— Gisele Barreto Fetterman (@giselefetterman) February 16, 2023
Both of Pennsylvania’s senators are out with illness, reducing the Senate to a 49-49 tie until one of them returns. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) is recovering from surgery on Tuesday for prostate cancer. The Senate is out next week for the Washington’s Birthday holiday break and is scheduled to be in session the following week.
…Fetterman, 53, the 6-foot-8, tattooed and goateed Democrat from Pennsylvania who suffered a near-fatal stroke last May and went on to win one of the most competitive seats in November’s midterm elections, was never going to blend in seamlessly in the marbled corridors of Congress.
But his adjustment to serving in the Senate has been made vastly more difficult by the strains of his recovery, which left him with a physical impairment and serious mental health challenges that have rendered the transition extraordinarily challenging — even with the accommodations that have been made to help him adapt.
“What you’re supposed to do to recover from this is do as little as possible,” said Adam Jentleson, his chief of staff. Instead, Fetterman “was forced to do as much as possible — he had to get back to the campaign trail. It’s hard to claw that back.”
…The latest health scare convinced his staff that Fetterman needs a better plan to take care of himself, both physically and emotionally.
Fetterman declined to be interviewed for this story. But aides and confidants describe his introduction to the Senate as a difficult period, filled with unfamiliar duties that are taxing for someone still in recovery: meetings with constituents, attending caucus and committee meetings, appearing in public at White House events and at the State of the Union address, as well as making appearances in Pennsylvania.
…The hearing issues are inconsistent; they often get worse when he is in a stressful or unfamiliar situation. When it’s bad, Fetterman has described it as trying to make out the muffled voice of the teacher in the “Peanuts” cartoon, whose words could never be deciphered.
The stroke — after which he had a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted — also took a less apparent but very real psychological toll on Fetterman. It has been less than a year since the stroke transformed him from someone with a large stature that suggested machismo — a central part of his political identity — into a physically altered version of himself, and he is frustrated at times that he is not yet back to the man he once was. He has had to come to terms with the fact that he may have set himself back permanently by not taking the recommended amount of rest during the campaign. And he continues to push himself in ways that people close to him worry are detrimental.
“It is stressful, having to go through that experience in the context of the most high-profile Senate race in the country,” said Jentleson.
NBC’s Ryan Nobles reported Fetterman’s staff said the prospect of his resignation “was never discussed and is not on the table.”
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