After a brief glimmer of hope following a stroke last month, hockey legend Gordie Howe has taken a turn for the worse over the past 10 days and, “is having a really difficult time here,” according to Howe’s son, Mark.
“Things are definitely headed in the wrong direction,” Mark said.
The younger Howe, in fact, sent an email out to family and friends last week telling them that Gordie Howe’s condition has been in rapid decline and that it might be time to consider hospice care for him. “Father Time and all Dad’s illnesses are pains are catching up with him rapidly,” he wrote.
Gordie Howe, who is 86 years old and in the advanced stages of dementia, suffered a serious stroke in late October at his daughter’s home in Lubbock, Texas. After a brief period of recovery that had inspired some optimism, Mark said a host of problems have arisen, not the least of which is debilitating back pain that can’t be treated because he is unable to get up and move around. Mark Howe said the family is hoping to have an epidural done later this week to alleviate the pain, but the problem with that is that in order for that to be done, he will have to go off other medications that are currently helping him cope with anxiety and high blood pressure.
“As a family, if we’re not going to be able to reduce his pain,” Mark Howe said, “the outcome is not going to be good.”
Mark Howe also said there have been several other health issues that have complicated the situation. The pain Gordie Howe is suffering in his back, pain that he was able to tolerate better before the stroke, has elevated his blood pressure, “to scary numbers,” according to Mark. “We’re definitely at a Catch-22 area right now,” Mark said. “And when you put it all together, it’s not the rosy picture we had two weeks ago, without a doubt.”
The family is still holding out hope that if Gordie Howe can get the epidural and reduce the back pain that a recovery still might be possible. Mark said that even though his father is so heavily sedated that he’s immobilized and can’t communicate, he still has some fight left in him. The family has taken turns spending time with Gordie and Mark said he’ll be there for the next week.
“When I got here last night, he opened his eyes,” Mark said. “And I know a lot about this from being around my mom that they hear what you say and they know what you say. So that part is still very much there."