Um, what? The subject of John Fetterman’s ability to serve as a senator from Pennsylvania following a stroke is a hot and touchy topic. It really only came to the fore when an NBC News reporter interviewed Fetterman and said afterward that the interview was close-captioned because Fetterman was having trouble understanding words. So, of course, Democrats and the media jumped on the reporter, with Fetterman’s wife, de facto candidate Gisele Fetterman, saying NBC News should apologize and the reporter face “consequences.”

There were signs of trouble earlier, though, although Tuesday night’s debate brought them in sharp focus. There have been video clips of Fetterman speaking around Pennsylvania and mangling sentences. Slate, which is arguing that Fetterman didn’t do that bad during the debate, says he’s doing much better than he was five or six months ago.

Is there something they’re not telling us?

Seriously. Sharin Ali — who is not Fetterman’s doctor — reports:

Pooja Khatri, division chief of neurology and rehabilitation medicine at the University of Cincinnati, told me Fetterman pushing through his impairments could actually help with his stroke recovery. She explained that it’s a principle of speech therapy—a form of rehab Fetterman’s doctor has confirmed he’s been attending on a regular basis. However, stress can make recovery more challenging, Sheth noted, adding that that’s something the job of a senator usually comes with.

Taking all of that into consideration, Sheth said he thinks Fetterman appears to be doing OK! Sure, he has some lingering auditory processing issues, but Sheth thought his ability to get into complex responses during Tuesday night’s debate should be viewed as reassuring, even if he was noticeably slower than his opponent (who is, to be fair, a TV veteran). Generally, the first three months following a stroke are considered the most important for recovery and when patients see the most improvements, and Fetterman is about five months post-stroke. But Sheth doesn’t think that means Fetterman is at the end of his road to recovery—he said there’s certainly still potential for more progress.

“He thinks Fetterman appears to be doing OK!” For someone recovering from a stroke. But he’ll be his old self by January, right?

The doctor they talked to even said stress can make recovery more of a challenge, and the New York Times on Tuesday suggested Fetterman surround himself with “supportive and compassionate” people to help him recover more quickly.

Hey media, this is your job: How bad was Fetterman five months ago so we have some gauge of how he’ll be doing in January? Consider the debate the halfway point.



You know how we said the author wasn’t Fetterman’s doctor? Joe Gabriel Simonson checked into it:


Editor’s Note:


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