Gerald Ford Recovering From Stroke

Thursday, August 3rd 2000, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A recovering and alert Gerald Ford was eagerly awaiting a quick hospital release and returning to work and his home in Colorado, according to aides and his family.

``He's really doing fantastic,'' the 87-year-old former president's son, Jack, said Friday on NBC's ``Today'' show. ``The short-term and long-term prognosis is very positive. From the stroke aspect, his speech is fine.''

Ford's 82-year-old wife, Betty, said in an interview taped Thursday that doctors have encouraged him to resume his swimming, golf and other activities. His physicians have said they plan to release him from the hospital early next week.

``This is a little scary,'' Mrs. Ford said in the interview. ``The more he knew, I think, the more he realized how serious it could have been.''

She said it was her husband who insisted on leaving the hospital and not having any further tests when he was taken there after attending Tuesday night's session of the Republican National Convention. Ford returned to the hospital the next morning with what doctors said were different symptoms from the night before and was diagnosed has having experienced one or more small strokes.

The former president also is eager to leave the hospital and get on the campaign trail on behalf of GOP presidential nominee George W. Bush and vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney, who was Ford's White House chief of staff ion 1975-76.

``He says, `I've got to get out of here. I've got a speaking engagement next week,''' said Calvin McDowell, a spokesman for the former president.

``The old sort of competitive juices got him going,'' said Jack Ford on CNN's ``Larry King Live'' Thursday night. ``He was walking the hall through the hospital. The nurse was saying, 'Slow down, you're going too fast for me.'''

Ford was listed in fair condition at Hahnemann University Hospital, and doctors said he would recover fully without needing rehabilitation therapy. They were doing tests to determine the cause of some painful swelling in the tongue that was unrelated to the stroke.

His children said they worried after seeing their father looking sluggish and sick on television after a Republican tribute to him Tuesday night during the Republican National Convention.

``He didn't look well,'' said Michael Ford. ``I thought he looked tired and was a little under the weather. So I was quite scared, and we made arrangements to get here as quickly as we could.''

Still, they declined to question whether doctors adequately examined their father after he arrived at the hospital late Tuesday complaining of facial pain. He was diagnosed as having a sinus condition and left the hospital after refusing doctors' recommendations that he take a CT scan.

On Thursday, Bush and former Sen. Robert Dole paid separate visits to Ford at the hospital. ``I thought he looked pretty good,'' Dole said. ``He's anxious to get out.''

Neurological exams showed Ford suffered at least one stroke and may have had more, doctors said. They were giving him an oral blood-thinning medicine, Coumadin, to prevent another stroke.

``From a stroke standpoint, he is progressing exactly as we would expect for someone in his condition,'' said Dr. Carole Thomas, director of the neurological intensive care and stroke program at the hospital. ``It was a fairly minor stroke.''

Ford's speech remains slurred, but he had regained the use of his left hand and has been sleeping well, doctors said.

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