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While Family Pushes for Rehab , Ophelia Ford Claims "Tired Blood" is Root of Problem

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Even as family members made plans for alcoholic rehab, state Senator Ophelia Ford contended that her well-publicized recent problems (including chronic absenteeism from the legislature and embarrassing behavior at a public hearing) have been due to a condition once widely known to viewers of TV commercials.

Namely, "tired blood,", or more formally, "anemia," as she accounted for things in a press release late Tuesday.

Meanwhile, several news reports indicate that Ford family members are taking the matter into their own hands. According to a report on WREG-TV, brother Joe Ford, current county commission chairman, said this: "I suspect it's alcohol and we need to step in the Senate needs to step in to see what we can do to help."

And Commissioner Ford was skeptical about his sister's explanation:"From what I've seen and heard anemia doesn't have you talking that way and acting that way. I'm not a doctor," says Joe Ford.

He told the the TV station that he intended to go to Nashville this weekend to get "some help" for his sister. "If it means getting her into rehab center. If it means expelling her from the Senate...what needs to take place needs to take place and don't hide this."

Here is Sen. Ford's complete statement:

Anemia a Challenge that Can Be Overcome

By Senator Ophelia Ford

With great disappointment, I read the Thursday, May 17 editorial in the Commercial Appeal questioning my ability to ably represent the people of District 29 in the Tennessee Senate. Since then, questions have been raised in other media outlets about my effectiveness as a senator, given my on-going health concerns.

Let me assure every resident of District 29 that I am fit to represent them in the Capitol, and I am making every effort to do so without fail. Yes, I am having some health problems, which have made travel between Memphis and Nashville somewhat difficult. Given this problem, I have been staying in Nashville and will continue to do so until the General Assembly adjourns. Yes, there have been times that I have been unable to attend Senate sessions and committee meetings, but I am staying abreast of the issues and am prepared to vote on the important matters coming before us in the final days of the General Assembly.

I have repeatedly told questioning reporters that I am suffering from chronic anemia. Some have shown an inclination to discount this condition as minor, choosing instead to look for more troublesome reasons for my difficult situation. Let me assure you that nothing if further from the truth. To raise such questions shows a serious misunderstanding of what anemia is and how it affects people struggling with it.

You may have heard anemia called “low blood” or “tired blood.” The Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.com) defines anemia as “a condition in which there aren't enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your tissues.” Anemia can be temporary or long term, even chronic. Its intensity can range from mild to very severe.

The most well-known symptom of anemia is fatigue. Those of us that fight with the disorder are quite often very, very tired for long periods of time. Also, we may seem energetic at one moment, and then we may sink into that tired state again within minutes. Other symptoms may include pale skin, dizziness, numbness or coldness in the extremities, headache, and weakness.

According to HealthGuide.com, “an estimated 3.4 million Americans suffer from anemia. Anemia is not a single disease but a condition, like fever, with many possible causes and many forms.” The condition can be debilitating, but most anemics live full lives just like the many Americans that, fortunately for them, don’t have the condition. We anemics do have challenges to overcome each day, but we do it and move on.

That’s what I’m doing in the State Senate. I promise the people of District 29 that I am on the job when they need me. I am there to protect their interests. I ask everyone to continue to pray for my health, and I look forward to the day when I have made a full recovery. I believe in the people of District 29, and I ask each and every one of you to continue believing in me.

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