US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Credit: AFP/Getty Images
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, sidelined for almost a month by a string of medical problems, is upbeat and planning to return to work next week, the State Department said Thursday.
One day after being released from the New York hospital that was treating a blood clot in her head, Clinton was at home resting, but was far from idle. She spent the day engaging with senior staff, reviewing paperwork and calling in to a meeting of her foreign policy advisory board, said her spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland.
"She's looking forward to getting back to the office," Nuland said. "She is very much planning to do so next week."
The announcement that Clinton soon would return to her Washington office ended what had been a somber point of uncertainty hanging over her month-long health ordeal: whether the 65-year-old secretary would be able to resume her duties before stepping down at the start of President Barack Obama's second term, as she had long planned to do.
Clinton in early December began the final few weeks of a widely lauded term as the nation's top diplomat. But a celebratory mood increasingly gave way to worry and uncertainty over her future as she took ill with a stomach virus, then seemed to deteriorate. While at home recuperating from the virus, Clinton became dehydrated and fainted, fell and struck her head, leading to a concussion, her spokesman said.
Then on Sunday, doctors performing a follow-up exam discovered a clot in a vein that runs through the space between the brain and the skull behind the right ear. Clinton was admitted to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where doctors began administering blood thinners to dissolve the clot. Clinton's physicians have said there was no neurological damage and they expect her to make a full recovery.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, center, is transported on the New York Presbyterian Hospital complex Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, in New York. Officials say Clinton who was admitted to the New York hospital Sunday continues to be treated with blood thinners to dissolve a clot in the vein behind the right ear. Doctors found the clot during a follow-up exam stemming from a concussion she suffered in early December. Credit: AP
Until Wednesday, when Clinton was photographed getting into a van with her husband, Bill, and daughter, Chelsea, a few hours before being released, she hadn't been seen in public since Dec. 7.
How much of her normal schedule the globetrotting Clinton will be able to resume is not yet clear, and her doctors have advised her not to travel abroad for the time being, her spokeswoman said. In the meantime, well wishes are pouring in from around the world.
"I think you could call the number of good will messages a tsunami," Nuland said.
Clinton's illness in December abruptly halted her usually jam-packed schedule, forcing her to cancel a trip to North Africa and the Middle East and to postpone scheduled testimony before Congress on the fatal Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. "She is committed to testifying, and we are working with the committees on an appropriate set of dates," Nuland said.
She was also absent from the White House last month when Obama nominated Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to succeed her.
The State Department said Thursday that Kerry has started meeting with diplomatic staff to prepare for his Senate confirmation hearings, and while at the department's Foggy Bottom headquarters on Wednesday he received a large amount of briefing materials. Kerry will return to the State Department for regular meetings starting Friday.
Clinton's medical struggles have also raised questions about her political future and how her health might influence her decision about whether to run for president in 2016, a move prominent Democrats have been urging her to consider.
Patients with the particular type of clot Clinton has are typically on a blood thinner for three to six months and are monitored to see if the clot goes away, said Dr. Ralph Sacco, a neurologist at the University of Miami. Even if the clot does not fully dissolve, it can become stable and do no harm.
"Vein clots can come and go and sometimes not even cause symptoms," said Sacco who was not involved in Clinton's care. "A very high proportion of people have great recovery."
Clinton also suffered from a blood clot in 1998, midway through her husband's second term as president. That clot was located in her knee.