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Posted: 2/16/2006 2:05:45 PM EDT
Hope he has a speedy and uneventful recovery.


Associated Press Writer

February 16, 2006, 4:26 PM EST

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Gov. George Pataki could be out of action for a week to 10 days after having his appendix removed Thursday morning, said the surgeon who cut it out after the Republican checked himself into the hospital complaining of abdominal pain.

But less than 10 hours after the surgery, Libby Pataki told an afternoon news conference at the hospital that her husband was already joking around and even working in his hospital room.

"He's telling the nurses, `Don't let anyone bring flowers, I prefer dark chocolate,"' Mrs. Pataki said.

"The governor is doing fine. He's in good spirits," said Dr. Wiji Ratnathicam, the senior attending surgeon at the Hudson Valley Hospital Center just outside Peekskill in Westchester County.

The surgeon said Pataki, 60, was tired _ "he's been up all night" _ and was being given pain medication.

Ratnathicam said that while Pataki's appendix had experienced an "early rupture" before surgery, there was no spread of contamination into his abdominal cavity. He said Pataki would likely be discharged on Saturday.

Pataki spokesman David Catalfamo said the "early rupture" meant the appendix had developed a "slight perforation" before surgery.

Pataki, the nation's senior governor, is eyeing a run for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. He announced in July that he would not seek a fourth, four-year term this year.

Wishes for a speedy recovery, and promises of some get-well goodies, began to flow almost immediately from fellow politicians.

President Bush telephoned and the two chatted briefly, Libby Pataki said.

"Governor, if you are watching, our thoughts are with you and we do plan to send you a bottle of good New York state wine so that you can, when you feel a little bit better over the weekend, sit back and relax," Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters in New York City. He later called Pataki at the hospital.

Dr. Ratnathicam said Pataki's diet would be a bit bland for the first couple of days.

"He's on Jell-O right now," the surgeon reported.

Ratnathicam said Pataki should make quick and full recovery given that he is "in excellent physical condition."

Libby Pataki said the governor began experiencing cramps about 2 a.m. Wednesday and that they went together to the hospital about 23 hours later. Catalfamo said the governor underwent the appendectomy shortly before 6 a.m. Thursday.

The first public sign the governor was under the weather came Wednesday morning when he canceled an appearance with Bloomberg in New York City.

"He really had a rotten stomach ache," his wife explained.

Pataki lives in Garrison, Putnam County, just north of Peekskill, a small city on the Hudson River where he was once the mayor. Peekskill is about 40 miles north of New York City.

After the surgery, Pataki canceled a Friday political trip to New Hampshire, traditional site of the first presidential primary. He has become a frequent visitor in recent months to the Granite State and to Iowa, site of the caucuses that begin the presidential selection process.

Dr. Maurizio Miglietta, chief of surgical critical care at New York University Medical Center-Bellevue and an assistant professor at NYU's School of Medicine, said the prognosis for a full recovery by the governor was "very, very good."

Nonetheless, Miglietta said, "Generally, people have some discomfort at the site for two or three weeks."

Miglietta said that after such surgery, patients are usually advised not to fly for "a few weeks," but that the governor's travels will otherwise only be limited by "his pain tolerance level and how comfortable he is."

The 6-foot-5 Pataki has been in generally good health as governor. In late 1999, he had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee that had bothered him for several years. He had a military deferment during the Vietnam War era because of poor eyesight.

While Pataki was under anesthesia for just over one hour, Lt. Gov. Mary Donohue was acting governor.
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