Former President George H.W. Bush is being treated in the intensive care unit at a Houston hospital for complications related to bronchitis, a spokesman revealed late Wednesday.
Bush spokesman Jim McGrath, said that the 41st president was admitted to the ICU on Sunday, "following a series of setbacks including a persistent fever."
On Nov. 7, Bush, 88, was admitted to the hospital for a lingering bronchitis-like cough and was discharged Nov. 19. When he was readmitted the day after Thanksgiving, the former president had only been expected to stay in hospital a few days, but a persistent cough wouldn't go away. He has been in the hospital since.
"Coming out of this, he was doing his physical therapy. That was going well until the middle part of last week," Bush spokesman Jim McGrath told Houston's FOX 26 News. "He just started having a few low energy days and things kind of snowballed from there."
An elevated fever is what's causing doctors at Methodist Hospital so much concern.
Earlier Wednesday, McGrath said the fever had gotten worse and doctors had put him on a liquids-only diet.
“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.”
The fever is being treated with Tylenol, but it's not responding to the treatment, the Houston Chronicle reports.
McGrath was not sure what caused the fever.
Christmas Day in the hospital
Instead of Christmas at home, Bush spent Christmas Day in the hospital with his wife, Barbara, son Neil, Neil's wife and grandson Pierce at Methodist Hospital.
"He was conscious, he was able to visit with his family members, he was joking with the medical staff, the nurses and the doctors there, so he hasn't lost his sense of humor to be sure," McGrath said. "But he was not able to celebrate it certainly in the traditional sense of the word."
He was able to keep some tradition. The family ordered Christmas dinner from Gigi's Asian Bistro in the Galleria, where they traditionally eat on Christmas Day, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The oldest living former president, Bush has had numerous health problems in recent years. In February, it was reported that he had been diagnosed with a form of Parkinson’s disease that affects the lower body. The condition causes instability from the waist down. As a result, he mostly uses a wheelchair.
Last year, he described his condition to Time magazine: “My legs don’t move when my brain tells them to. It’s very frustrating. But I am in no pain, and I have discovered the amazing scooters, which Barbara accuses me of driving like I drive my boat. But they help me get around.”
Two sons — former President George W. Bush and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — have visited him during his hospital stay and are planning to visit again soon.
Doctors are cautiously optimistic that their current course of treatment will be effective.
"He's in critical condition. He's in a bad way," McGrath said, Fox26 reported. "But the doctors believe there is a path for him to recover from this and if we can get him to rally a little bit, we can start talking about a discharge date, but we're not there yet."