Dingell’s hospital diary: ‘You are looking at a changed woman … This has been a wake-up call’

May 30, 2021, 9:40 AM

Rep. Debbie Dingell was discharged Friday from George Washington University Hospital in the capital, where she had emergency surgery May 21 for a perforated ulcer.

A few days into her recovery, the reflective, chatty Dearborn Democrat resumed a daily ritual of diary-like posts at her personal Facebook page. (She also has a more formal congressional one.)

Debbie Dingell: "I never, ever want to be where I was this past week." (Photo: Michael Lucido/2019)

"Last few days haven’t been fun and maybe a message for a change in routine," the 67-year-old congresswoman said three days after her operation.

Dingell also acknowledged causing her problem with recurring Motrin use to relieve pain from jaw surgery in January and follow-up bone grafs recently. "To be honest, doctors said be careful," she posted.

Excerpts below, presented in reverse chronological order, are from this weekend and the previous three days.

'Taking it slow and lazy'

Saturday night

A rainy Saturday, where I am cuddled in and happy to be alive.  Late posting because actually I am taking it slow and lazy. ...

I got out of the hospital yesterday and am staying with a girlfriend for a couple of weeks because doctors would prefer I not be alone. We are company for each other and actually support each other too. She is making me eat right and rest.

'You are looking at a changed woman'


Good news yesterday. The hole is closed. Many more medical students, interns and residents were in attendance than the one doctor Monday. …

I will continue on liquids today, and if all continues well, I will be able to leave. Eight days of the most uncomfortable time I have ever experienced. You are looking at a changed woman. … I never, ever want to be where I was this past week. …

You don’t just bounce back. I will gradually move to soft foods and am listening to every piece of advice I get. For a couple of weeks, I am not allowed to lift [or] drive. And while I can do virtual work, cooling it matters. …

When discharged, I am staying with a girlfriend who will spoil me, make sure I listen. Her kids are my family. We share common friends and we will keep each other company. She will make sure I am OK and following the doctor’s orders and I will be safe.

I am doing what told, maybe for first time in my life, but this has been a wake-up call. I will work, but at an approved pace.

Video meetings with camera mostly off


I continue to work, though the circumstances are unique. Virtual committee meetings allow me to vote, though turning the camera on is an art. I only show [my face] when voting and no one gets to see more than the eyes. ... Participated in briefings on the Mideast. A group of us met [virtually] with White House officials on expanding the age of Medicare eligibility and hearing, dental and vision care. Kept working on bills. Have some district issues I made calls on.

This week has given me first hand experience in understanding the challenges hospitals face in the midst of Covid and post-Covid.

'Don't end up where I am'


I am praying it's out of here by Friday night. Please everyone, learn about potential dangers of things you do in this life and don't end up where I am. It isn’t fun; in fact it's downright unpleasant and I am desperate to get back to my normal life. You are looking at a woman who has had a wake-up call and I am listening going forward. …

Looking forward to the back of a boat, sitting in the sun and sailing the waters. 

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