Mayor Brown plans return as doctor in six weeks
Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown's recent open heart surgery won't stymie his duties as mayor, he said Wednesday. Brown, the longest-serving mayor in the city's history, had the surgery May 14 at Altru Health System. But he's expected to make a full ...
Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown's recent open heart surgery won’t stymie his duties as mayor, he said Wednesday.
Brown, the longest-serving mayor in the city’s history, had the surgery May 14 at Altru Health System. But he’s expected to make a full recovery and resume his role as an obstetrician and gynecologist in about six weeks, he said.
He said he can easily maintain his job as mayor.
“You can use your brain, you can bang a gavel, you just can’t lift more than 10 pounds,” he said.
Although his medical condition was a private matter, he knew how important it was to keep the community informed, he said. He initially wanted to make the announcement Tuesday, but he delayed it because of the shooting at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in south Grand Forks.
“It’s sad,” he said. “We’re a very safe community. I was very happy to go to the press conference and reaffirm that we’re a safe and welcoming community.”
He didn’t consider announcing his surgery at any other time because he was focused on his recovery, he said.
“In the immediate post-operative period, you don’t want the well-wishers, you want to recover,” he said. “If you make the announcement, you have 50 hot dishes on your doorstep. I wanted to be able to say ‘thank you’ when I felt strong enough.”
Recovery Brown, 64, has no history of heart problems in his family, he said.
Though five years ago, he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a heart condition characterized by rapid and irregular beating. When he noticed his heart fluttering in early May, he didn’t think much of it, he said.
He visited his internal medicine doctor and later found his heart was “99 percent plugged” as a result of his condition, he said. His doctors suggested triple bypass surgery, but he had to work, he said.
“I told them, ‘So, I think I’ll have surgery in June,’ ” he said. “ ‘It won’t be in June,’ they said. But I wanted to be a doctor, not a patient.”
While the surgery prompted some life assessment, he said he had “complete faith” in the doctors, nurses and support staff at the hospital.
“It’s amazing how common this surgery is,” he said.
His inability to communicate lasted 12 hours, and he spent five days in the hospital, he said. As he recovered, city officials visited to keep him updated. He could still sign documents, he could still take criticism; he even watched part of a City Council meeting, he said.
In the event he couldn’t complete his duties, the president of the City Council would make a decision on assuming that role, just like any other extreme event, he said.
After his leave of absence, he can return to work on a part-time basis, he said.
He was in good spirits Wednesday, cracking jokes and talking about future trips to Winnipeg and San Francisco. He even delivered chocolate chippers that day to the nursing and cardiology staff.
“Doctors make the worst patients,” he said. “They can be demanding and crabby. I myself have never seen it.”