Sharon returns to full work schedule after stroke recovery

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was slated on Sunday to return to a full work schedule after recovering from a mild stroke he suffered last week. Sharon will meet ministers at a weekly Cabinet meeting later in the day, his office said. He was rushed to the hospital a week ago after complaining that he felt bad. Doctors later said he suffered a mild stroke that had not caused any permanent damage. Sharon’s blood pressure and cholesterol levels are normal despite the fact he is overweight, his doctors said. Speculations about Sharon’s precise weight have preoccupied Israelis. The media has reported that he weighs in at between 117 and 142 kilograms. The tabloid newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported Sunday that Sharon had lost one kilogram since the stroke. Sharon’s physicians will hold an unprecedented press conference on Monday in which their presentation will sum up Sharon’s stroke, provide information about his pre-stroke physical condition and detail his plan for medical treatment. The presenting physicians will be Dr. Shlomo Segev of Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, who in recent years has been responsible for monitoring Sharon’s health; Sharon’s long-time personal physician and friend, Dr. Boleslav (Bolek) Goldman; and one of the physicians who treated the prime minister at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, where he was hospitalized last week. The decision to hold the press conference was made jointly by Sharon, his advisers and his doctors. It will be the first time that an Israeli leader will present detailed, authorized information about his health on the eve of national elections. „We will present all the information that needs to be presented,” Dr. Segev said on Saturday. „There is nothing to hide,” he said. Haaretz asked Sharon as long as eight months ago to reveal his medical history to the public but received an ambiguous response. Last week, in the wake of Sharon’s stroke, public interest in the prime minister’s health has been piqued. Sharon will turn 78 in late February, and he is running for a four-year term, at the very least. Sharon’s political strategist and friend, the advertising man Reuven Adler, has been charged with handling the media coverage of Sharon’s health. In coordination with Adler, Segev and Goldman gave Yedioth Ahronoth results from medical tests that Sharon had before last week’s stroke. They included details from blood tests carried out on November 28 that showed normal levels of blood cholesterol (high normal), iron and hemoglobin (low normal). The doctors said that Sharon was healthy and confirmed information released shortly before the 2001 elections showing that he had gout. Gout, which is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the joints that can cause great pain and inflammation, is sometimes caused by the high consumption of foods such as red meats, wine and cream. Sharon has been taking daily medication for gout for the past 20 years that prevents the joint pain. In the past several years he has also had procedures to remove gallstones and to pulverize kidney stones. In addition, tests that Sharon had at Hadassah after his stroke revealed a congenital heart defect, and sometime in the next several months he will have treatment for it that may include catheterization. The test was carried out as part of the normal battery of tests that post-stroke patients undergo. Sharon was also put on a blood-thinning drug, standard treatment following a stroke. The prime minister has a slight limp, the result of an injury he received during combat at Latrun during the 1948 War of Independence, and a few years ago it was recognized as a war injury. Sharon is considerably overweight but has refused to listen to his doctors’ recommendations that he go on a diet.