Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) is much worse than he, his wife and staff are telling the public. It is only through whispered leaks to the media that the public learns the truth and that is only after events prove the lies. He has a bad heart, which wasn’t disclosed until his debilitating stroke last May. The stroke was much worse than his campaign let on until his one debate in late October. He’s battled depression all his life, but that wasn’t disclosed until ten days ago when he was hospitalized for clinical depression.
Photos taken three months apart, November 2022 and February 2023 show Fetterman’s decline:
Video of Fetterman at the State of the Union shows his shirt collar is loose, indicating weight loss.
What's more awkward and out of place? John Fetterman in a suit or Bernie Sanders being the only one in the building wearing a mask? pic.twitter.com/EsEuzACDJZ
— MRCTV (@mrctv) February 8, 2023
Fetterman was sworn in as Senator on January 3 and kept a low profile until his office reported he had checked himself into George Washington University Hospital, in Washington, D.C. on February 8 after feeling lightheaded. His spokesman released statements that all tests on Fetterman came back negative and he was released after two days.
What the spokesman did not disclose was that Fetterman was diagnosed with depression and was advised to see the Capitol physician, which he did the following Monday. The doctor recommended Fetterman check himself into the hospital for clinical depression.
It turns out Fetterman’s lightheadedness was the result of him not being able to take care of himself: He was not eating or drinking enough fluids to sustain himself.
Fetterman is on his own in D.C. His family did not move to Washington with him, opting to remain in their hometown Braddock. This meant that Fetterman, still recuperating from a debilitating stroke while starting a new high pressure job, had no one to look after him. His staff obviously wasn’t. They knew he was suffering from depression and that between the stroke and depression he was difficult to deal with.
Fetterman’s wife Gisele tweeted Friday that when her husband went in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on February 15 for depression, she grabbed the kids and their passports and got out of the country.
CNN reported in a little noticed report earlier this week that Fetterman was hospitalized because he was unable to take care of himself (excerpt):
“In someone who has pre-existing depression, it is possible that they may be more treatment resistant and have a history of failing medications. So as a result, they may require more aggressive treatment that can take several weeks and even into several months, depending on how they present,” said Dr. Daniel Bober, a psychiatrist in Hollywood, Florida.
“In someone who’s already had depression even before their stroke, this puts him at much greater risk and requires much more aggressive treatment,” Bober said.
Fetterman’s symptoms for depression included weight loss and loss of appetite, a source familiar with the matter said. He was not suicidal, the source said. His lack of eating and drinking water contributed to lightheadedness. He was hospitalized earlier this month in Washington, DC, after feeling lightheaded. His office said he had not had another stroke.
“Generally, the reason that someone presents to a hospital for a psychiatric condition like depression is because either they are acutely suicidal or they have been deemed unable to take care of themselves. And when I say unable to take care of themselves, I mean, their basic needs – food, hydration, hygiene – are all things that they’re required to do on a daily basis, and they are unable to do this due to the severity of their depression,” Bober said.
One reason to treat depression in the hospital is that care can happen faster. Doctors can try different approaches and pivot if something isn’t working, Cronenwett said.
Another reason is it’s safe.
“People with depression sometimes have trouble with activities of daily living. They may shut down or may stop eating. The hospital can support them in their activities of daily living. Some people may have thoughts about suicide, and the hospital can be a place of safety, while they are recovering,” Cronenwett said.
The New York Times reported after Fetterman’s first hospitalization on the toll becoming a Senator was taking on him, but it turns out to be worse (excerpt):
…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.
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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.
…But Fetterman is the only one who is dealing with recuperation as he enters the Senate for the first time. For now, that means living alone in a Washington apartment during the week, and driving four hours home to Braddock, Pennsylvania, most weekends to see his wife and three children.
Many people have a lot to answer to for putting Fetterman in this position, including his campaign donor doctor who have him a clean bill of health last October.
Back in October, John Fetterman's campaign released a note from a doctor, who donated to his campaign, that granted him a clean bill of health and said that he "can work full duty in public office."
According to the NYT, he is coming to terms with having permanent brain damage. pic.twitter.com/hKw4mDzCTK
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) February 10, 2023
Even when he announced his boss was hospitalized again, Fetterman’s Chief of Staff Adam Jentleson downplayed the severity of the situation and said Fetterman would “soon be back to himself.”
“Some news: Last night, Senator John Fetterman checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to receive treatment for clinical depression. While John has experienced depression off and on throughout his life, it only became severe in recent weeks. 1/…On Monday, John was evaluated by Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the Attending Physician of the United States Congress. Yesterday, Dr. Monahan recommended inpatient care at Walter Reed. John agreed, and he is receiving treatment on a voluntary basis. 2/…After examining John, the doctors at Walter Reed told us that John is getting the care he needs, and will soon be back to himself. 3/3″
Some news: Last night, Senator John Fetterman checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to receive treatment for clinical depression. While John has experienced depression off and on throughout his life, it only became severe in recent weeks. 1/
— Adam Jentleson (@AJentleson) February 16, 2023
After examining John, the doctors at Walter Reed told us that John is getting the care he needs, and will soon be back to himself. 3/3
— Adam Jentleson (@AJentleson) February 16, 2023