VOL. 123 | NO. 59 | Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Ophelia Ford Returns to Capitol; Blames Illness on Ulcer
By LUCAS L. JOHNSON II | Associated Press Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) - State Sen. Ophelia Ford returned to the Legislature Monday and said a bleeding ulcer caused her to be absent since the session started in January.
The Memphis Democrat, wearing a dark brown warm-up suit and walking with a cane, told reporters on the way to her office that she feels "great." She later addressed her colleagues on the Senate floor.
"It's just so wonderful for me to be here," she said. "I missed you a lot and I'm looking forward to getting back to work."
Ford has been in and out of the hospital with health issues that have plagued her the past year. The 57-year-old said in March that she had a severe case of anemia that had caused her to miss much of last year's legislative session.
In January, legislative leaders from both parties asked for an update on Ford's health after being told earlier that month that she would miss several weeks of the legislative session.
The family then asked Methodist University Hospital and Ford's physician to issue a statement, which said that "she has a medical condition causing malnutrition, dehydration and anemia and at this time, requires continued hospitalization."
On Monday, Ford said she has a bleeding ulcer that took a while to identify, and that it "led to other complications."
"But everything is under control," said Ford, adding that she now has a healthy appetite and is "taking my vitamins like I'm supposed to and doing my exercises."
Ford's colleagues were pleased to see her.
"I'm glad Sen. Ford's health allows her to return," said Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis. "I look forward to working with her."
Sen. Paul Stanley, R-Memphis, said he hopes Ford will keep a careful watch over her health.
"I always said it should be a priority to take care of yourself ... and I hope she's done that," he said. "I wish her well in whatever recovery she's going through."
Ford is a member of the politically prominent Ford family. Numerous relatives have held public office and she took over the seat held by a brother, John Ford, who stepped down after being indicted and eventually convicted in the Tennessee Waltz corruption sting.
Earlier this year, Senate Democrats withdrew a bill that would have allowed temporary replacements for sick lawmakers after an attorney general's opinion indicated that the law would have been unconstitutional.
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