A persistent fever that kept former President George H.W. Bush in a hospital over Christmas has gotten worse, and doctors have put him on a liquids-only diet, his spokesman said Wednesday.
Jim McGrath, Bush’s spokesman in Houston, had said earlier in the day that the fever had gone away, but he later corrected himself.
‘It’s an elevated fever, so it’s actually gone up in the last day or two,’ McGrath told The Associated Press. ‘It’s a stubborn fever that won’t go away.’
Doctors at Methodist Hospital in Houston have run tests and are treating the fever with Tylenol, but they still haven’t nailed down a cause, McGrath said. Doctors also have put Bush on a liquid diet, though McGrath could not say why.
The president has been in intensive care since Sunday, KHOU 11 News learned on Wednesday, and his condition is said to be ‘guarded,’ although Mr Bush remains alert and talking with family and his doctor.
The bronchitis-like cough that initially brought Bush to the hospital on November 23 has improved, McGrath said. The 88-year-old is now coughing about once a day, he said.
Bush was visited on Christmas by his wife, Barbara, his son, Neil, and Neil’s wife, Maria, and a grandson, McGrath said. Bush’s daughter, Dorothy, will arrive Wednesday in Houston from Bethesda, Maryland.
The 41st president has also been visited twice by his sons, George W. Bush, the 43rd president, and Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida.
George H.W. Bush spent Christmas with his wife and other family members in a Houston hospital after developing a fever and weakness following a month-long, bronchitis-like cough.
A hospital spokesman had said the 88-year-old ex-president would be released in time to spend the holiday at home, but that changed after Bush developed a fever.
‘He’s had a few setbacks. Late last week, he had a few low-energy days followed by a low-grade fever,’ Jim McGrath said. ‘Doctors still say they are cautiously optimistic, but every time they get over one thing, another thing pops up.’
Bush, the nation’s 41st president, and his wife, Barbara, live in Houston during the winter and spend their summers in a home in Kennebunkport, Maine.
The former president was a naval aviator in World War II – at one point the youngest in the Navy – and was shot down over the Pacific. He achieved notoriety in retirement for skydiving on at least three of his birthdays since leaving the White House in 1992.
Being in the hospital for such a long time has not been easy for Bush, who is accustomed to being active, McGrath said. But the president has said he’s determined ‘not to get grumpy about it.’
‘He’s just the most relentlessly positive person,’ McGrath said, and ‘he does enjoy joking with the nurses.’