Updated 08/09/12 – 4:56 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s wife said Thursday she expects her husband to return to work after he completes his treatment for depression and gastrointestinal issues at the Mayo Clinic, but gave no timetable for when that would happen.
Speaking to reporters in the South Shore neighborhood, Ald. Sandi Jackson said the congressman is getting better, but said it will be up to his doctors to determine when he can return to Congress.
“I can tell you now he’s getting better. We talk every day. He talks in the morning with our children, and he talks in the evening with them before they go to bed. And we’re very, very hopeful that he will continue to get better,” she said.
But Sandi Jackson did not say specifically when — or if — Jesse Jr. would return to Congress and to campaign for re-election.
“My hope is that he will come back. All of that is dependent on the doctors. I’m encouraged by what they’ve been saying to me thus far,” she said. “At this point, we’re taking every day one day at a time, but we here on the ground are preparing for his eventual return. We don’t know when that’s going to be, but we want his constituents to know that they’re very much on his mind. He loves them all very much, and is very grateful for their support, and he wants them to know that he doesn’t take their support for granted.”
Ald. Jackson said doctors still have not provided a precise diagnosis for the “gastrointestinal issues” the Mayo Clinic said Congressman Jackson has been suffering.
“The physicians at the Mayo Clinic are looking into that aspect of his illness. They have not yet said to me what their diagnosis is with respect to that,” she said. “I know that they are still running tests to determine where his discomfort is, but we know he’s been suffering from some stomach ailments for close to eight years.”
Ald. Jackson said she would not speculate on how soon her husband would return from the Mayo Clinic.
“We’re going to leave his return to the experts. I’m going to be calling them daily … to hear their analysis and, hopefully, when there’s a big announcement to be made, Mayo will be making it,” she said. “We want him to come back, we expect that he will come back. The exact date for when he will come back has not yet been determined. That will be determined by the doctors.”
She did, however, sound a hopeful note that her husband would get back to work soon.
“We know that, of the millions of Americans that suffer from depression, many go back to work and live very fruitful lives. I expect Jesse will too. I expect to be right there beside him every single day as he goes out and he continues to fight on behalf of the residents of the city of Chicago and Chicagoland,” she said.
Earlier, Congressman Jackson’s spokesman, Rick Bryant, told the Associated Press he had talked with Jackson and the congressman seemed upbeat and “like his old self.”
Bryant said Jackson wanted him to call mayors in his district that stretches south of Chicago to get updates on projects.
Congressman Jackson has been on medical leave since June 10, and his office has released few details of his illness or treatment at the Mayo Clinic. His office initially said he was absent due to exhaustion, then said he was being treated for an unspecified “mood disorder,” before the Mayo Clinic announced last month he was being treated for depression and gastrointestinal issues.
Ald. Jackson said the family did not immediately recognize that the congressman had been suffering from depression.
“Depression is not like a stroke or a headache. The symptoms sneak up on you slowly. It doesn’t present immediately. In Jesse’s case, he simply became more withdrawn. He wasn’t as talkative as he was before. For us, that meant that he was very deep in thought,” she said. “He was depressed, plus he was extremely exhausted, and he was malabsorbed from not getting enough nutrients.”
Jackson’s mother recently spoke about her son’s extended absence, saying the once-ambitious congressman has been grappling with “enormous disappointment.”
Jackson Jr. was swept into the scandal surrounding deposed Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted of trying to sell President Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat in Illinois. One of Jackson’s fundraisers allegedly made overtures on behalf of the congressman to give Blagojevich campaign cash in exchange for a Jackson appointment.
Jackson has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime, but he has suffered political fallout.