John Fetterman is grateful to be here, and in a series of interviews over several months, the Pennsylvania Senator speaks about his stroke, depression and his recovery in a Men’s Health spotlight article by Ryan D’Agostino.
It’s lengthy, and worth a read in its entirety, but News Views will bring you some highlights.
It’s been 14 months since John Fetterman suffered a stroke in May 2022. Successful recovery can take months or years for the brain to configure pathways around damaged tissue to function properly, and Fetterman still uses the infamous iPad to process speech correctly.
When asked what he remembers about the stroke itself, Fetterman describes his luck at being treated so promptly to save his life:
JF: I was walking into my SUV after using the men’s room at a Sheetz, and my wife, Gisele, said, “My God, you’re having a stroke.” And I was like, “What the hell are you talking about?” This side of my face was drooping. My security detail turned on their lights and started driving to Lancaster General. I was arguing the whole way. I was like, “What are we doing? I’ve got to get to . . .” This was just a couple of days before the primary, and we had an event at Millersville University. I’m like, “We got to go. We got to go.” And my speech started to make—I was arguing all the way till we got there, but my brain was fighting to get—literally, I was in the process of dying.
Fetterman is reminded of the cruel clips Fox News would play of his jumbled speech, and is asked if it was hurtful.
They love it. They’ve never lost their hard-on for trying to point out that I missed a word or two...It’s not that it’s hurtful, but it’s dismaying. I would never make fun of, be like, “Ha ha ha, you’ve got a limp!” I don’t understand anyone that gets their jollies off that, because it could be your brother, it could be your father, it could be your child. It’s almost like middle-school kind of obnoxious. Don’t you reach a certain age where you’re just like, Yeah, we don’t be like this?
Fetterman then speaks of his sudden and severe depression following such a public health struggle, in which he contemplated suicide, and received treatment for six weeks. He intended to demonstrate where his recovery was at during a public debate, and the win he pulled off — by five points — was a surprise.
JF: I did win! But I didn’t expect that I was going to win, to be honest, because we were getting—it was a blowtorch. “You’re a ‘retard.’” “You’re a vegetable.” Could you imagine if on the other end I was making fun of someone who had a stroke? What the fuck is—what the fuck is wrong with you? You know? And that was—at that point, I all but stopped eating. I was dehydrated.
We won by five points. The last time this seat went to Democrats was in the ’60s. But even then, it didn’t matter to me. I didn’t have any interest to be a senator after that. It was rough. You would think that, Hey, you won, and it was good. But it wasn’t. It was confusing and hurtful to my children, because they thought, You won. What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with us?
Fetterman became more focused on his family than the Senate seat. And following six weeks of treatment at Walter Reed Hospital for depression, he is grateful for a 100% recovery — at least from the depression.
Let me say this to anyone that’s thinking about this: There is a way out. There is a way out, and do not ever, ever, ever, ever hurt yourself. I considered that, because if I hurt myself, then I am leaving a blueprint of my children that in their life, when things happen or things are bad, that this is what Dad did. That’s the blueprint, so I can do it, too.
Fetterman is crying now, from his Senate desk.
JF: Anyone reading this story: Don’t ever, ever, ever, ever consider hurting yourself. Get your help. I never thought it would work, and I was skeptical. But don’t ever give up. Get help.