WASHINGTON (AP) - Montana Sen. Max Baucus said he expects to make a full recovery from the surgery that relieved symptoms he had been suffering as a result of a fall he took while running a 50-mile race in November.
"I frankly think this is a little medical blip," Baucus told reporters Thursday. "We all get them at one time or another. This is mine. I fully expect 100 percent, full recovery within a matter of weeks. That's what the docs say, and that's how it feels."
The 62-year-old Democrat said he isn't yet sure how much he will be able to work next week, when Congress convenes for the year, because he has been ordered to rest.
"I just don't want to overdo it too quickly," he said. "I want to rest and relax enough so that we know that the recovery is full and complete …. The docs and (Baucus' wife) Wanda have been very clear I've got to slow down a little bit."
Baucus was hospitalized and underwent surgery on Friday at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was released from the hospital and returned to Washington earlier this week.
He said he had been experiencing occasional dizziness, drowsiness and poor coordination for about a week. The symptoms struck again Jan. 8 during a flight to Phoenix, where he was to deliver an energy policy speech and attend a political fund-raiser.
Baucus said an aide insisted he see a doctor after they arrived.
"Senator, you've got to cancel everything today," he said he was told. "I'm taking you straight to the hospital."
Baucus injured his head when he fell on a rocky stretch of trail during the Nov. 22 race in Maryland. "There's one portion where it's particularly rocky and narrow," he said. "I think I tried to pass somebody and I stumbled on a rock, fell down and my head hit a rock."
Baucus finished the race but went to a hospital that evening, where doctors stitched a gash caused by the blow.
The symptoms Baucus suffered later were caused by fluid building up on the outside of his brain, a condition known as a subdural hematoma. The operation on Friday drilled two small holes in Baucus' skull to relieve the resulting pressure.
Baucus said he was not warned to watch for the symptoms but did not fault the doctors who first treated him for failing to do so.
"This is a condition where generally one does not know, that is, the symptoms that led to the procedure generally come on several weeks after a blow to the head," he said. "That was the difficult part here, I just didn't know it was happening."
Baucus said he has been assured there will be no long-term effects from the condition, and he is grateful for the support that has been expressed by Montanans and his colleagues.
Baucus has qualified to run in a California 100-mile race, the Western States Endurance Run, in late June, and said he is not ruling it out. Fewer than one in five runners in that event finish in less than 24 hours, according to its Web site.
Baucus said he has been told to take a month off from running but he plans to start working out on a stationary bike soon.
On the Net:
Baucus' Senate site: http://www.baucus.senate.gov