Granddaughter: Barbara Bush is ‘a fighter,’ in good spirits


Former first lady Barbara Bush, who was reported to be in failing health over the weekend, is in “great spirits,” and the family is grateful for “everybody’s prayers and thoughts,” her granddaughter said Monday.

Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath said in a news release Sunday that “Mrs. Bush, now age 92, has decided not to seek additional medical treatment and will instead focus on comfort care” at home in Houston after consultations with her doctors and family.

McGrath did not elaborate on the nature of Bush’s health problems but on Monday said she’s suffered in recent years from congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She also has been treated for decades for Graves’ disease, which is a thyroid condition, had heart surgery in 2009 for a severe narrowing of her main heart valve and was hospitalized a year before that for surgery on a perforated ulcer.

Jenna Bush Hager, an anchor on NBC’s “Today” show, said Monday morning that Bush is resting comfortably with family.

“She’s a fighter. She’s an enforcer,” Hager said, using the family’s nickname for her grandmother. “We’re grateful for her, for everybody’s prayers and thoughts, and just know the world is better because she is in it.

Hager said former President George H.W. Bush “still says, ‘I love you, Barbie’ every night,” and described her grandparents’ close relationship as “remarkable.”

President Donald Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement Sunday evening that “the president’s and first lady’s prayers are with all of the Bush family during this time.”

People who opt for comfort care receive treatment only for their symptoms, such as shortness of breath or pain, rather than trying to prolong life or cure the underlying health problem, said Tim Simpson, a certified hospice and palliative nurse for almost 28 years

For example, patients having trouble breathing might receive oxygen or steroids, or if they have fluid in their legs because of a bad heart, they might receive diuretics.

“With comfort measures, there are no unnecessary tests except those needed to relieve a patient’s symptoms,” said Simpson, chief nursing officer at Seasons Hospice in Illinois.

Hospice care has some technical differences. It’s for patients who are not expected to live more than six months, Simpson said. They sign a waiver officially saying they want only treatment for their symptoms that does not prolong life, he said.

Comfort care is more of a verbal understanding between a doctor and a patient, Simpson said.

Heart failure is one of the top reasons older people are hospitalized and is a leading cause of death. It develops when the heart muscle weakens over time and can no longer pump effectively, sometimes because of damage from a heart attack. Fluid can back up into the lungs and leave people gasping for breath.

Many people have both heart and lung problems, said Dr. Kyle Hogarth, a pulmonologist and associate professor in pulmonary and critical care at the University of Chicago Medicine.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Waffle House 'hero' disarmed shooter, tossed rifle over counter
Waffle House 'hero' disarmed shooter, tossed rifle over counter

Some fast thinking by a Waffle House patron in Antioch, Tennessee, saved numerous lives after a man opened fire at the restaurant, The Tennessean reported. Police said the suspected shooter, believed to be Travis Reinking, 29, of Morton, Illinois, opened fire at about 3:25 a.m. at the Waffle House. James Shaw Jr., 29, was sitting in the Waffle...
California man stabbed to death while dining with daughter on lap
California man stabbed to death while dining with daughter on lap

A California man eating at a steakhouse with his daughter on his lap was stabbed to death Wednesday when a homeless man allegedly walked up and attacked him, CNN reported. Anthony Mele Jr. 35, died Thursday, but his 5-year-old daughter was not hurt, the Ventura Police Department said. Mele was dining at the Aloha Steakhouse, a beachside restaurant...
FORECAST: Breezy Sunday, with temps to hit 76
FORECAST: Breezy Sunday, with temps to hit 76

Sunday forecast for Austin: Plan for a sunny end to the weekend, with a high of 76 and north winds moving 10 to 15 mph during the day, then mostly clear skies and a low of 54 at night, with north winds moving 5 to 10 mph before becoming light northwest winds after midnight. Monday: Sunny, with a high of 82 and north northwest winds moving 5 to 10 mph...
COMMUNITY NEWS: A&M extension holds food preservation workshop

TRAVIS COUNTY LAKEWAY Sing Along to present vaudeville theater Lakeway Sing Along will present its 18th annual spring show, “Vaudeville & Beyond,” at 6 p.m. April 26-28 at the Lakeway Activity Center, 105 Cross Creek. The shows will include dinner with music by the Lohman’s Crossing Band. Tickets are $30 and available at the activity...
Federal money to connect Texas schools to fiber at risk, officials say
Federal money to connect Texas schools to fiber at risk, officials say

Delays and denials by the federal government are putting Texas schools at risk of losing millions of dollars in potential subsidies that would help pay for installing high-speed fiber internet in classrooms, according to state officials. Last year, state lawmakers approved $25 million to help school districts over the 2018-19 budget period replace...
More Stories