In late July 2010, Rep. Michele Bachmann’s then-communications director, Dave Dziok, told his boss that he planned to take a new job with the public relations firm Edelman.
Dziok had worked for Bachmann for two and a half years, a relatively long period by the standards of her office, and was leaving on good terms.
Staff turnover can frustrate any employer, but Bachmann responded more dramatically. Dziok’s departure triggered a debilitating medical episode that landed the congresswoman in urgent care.
“Within 24 hours she was in the hospital,” a former aide says.
Bachmann was admitted to a Washington, D.C. hospital on Friday, July 30, and released that same day. She flew home to Minnesota to recuperate, missing a scheduled campaign event with Sen. Roy Blunt.
It’s “nothing folks should worry about going forward,” Dziok told reporters at the time, refusing to specify why Bachmann had been hospitalized.
It was, according to three people who have worked closely with Bachmann, not an isolated event. (Bachmann signs ‘Cut, Cap, and Balance’ pledge, adds promise to defund Obamacare)
The Minnesota Republican frequently suffers from stress-induced medical episodes that she has characterized as severe headaches. These episodes, say witnesses, occur once a week on average and can “incapacitate” her for days at time. On at least three occasions, Bachmann has landed in the hospital as a result.
“She has terrible migraine headaches. And they put her out of commission for a day or more at a time. They come out of nowhere, and they’re unpredictable,” says an adviser to Bachmann who was involved in her 2010 congressional campaign. “They level her. They put her down. It’s actually sad. It’s very painful.”
Bachmann’s medical condition wouldn’t merit public attention, but for the fact she is running for president. Some close to Bachmann fear she won’t be equal to the stress of the campaign, much less the presidency itself.
“When she gets ’em, frankly, she can’t function at all. It’s not like a little thing with a couple Advils. It’s bad,” the adviser says. “The migraines are so bad and so intense, she carries and takes all sorts of pills. Prevention pills. Pills during the migraine. Pills after the migraine, to keep them under control. She has to take these pills wherever she goes.”
To staff, Bachmann has implausibly blamed the headaches on uncomfortable high-heel shoes, but those who have worked closely with her cite stress, a busy schedule and anything going badly for Bachmann as causes.
Alice Stewart, a spokeswoman for Bachmann, said “she suffers from migraines and they’re under control with medicine.” Stewart contested descriptions of the episodes as “incapacitating” Bachmann but did not specify how the descriptions were wrong. “The information you have is incorrect,” Stewart said. She declined to discuss Bachmann’s hospital visits at all, saying, “I’m not going to go into her medical history.”
On the evening of May 13, 2010, Bachmann flew to Los Angeles for a series of political and fundraising events. In part because of complications with her flight schedule, Bachmann’s mood plunged. During the entire six-hour flight, she was desperately sick from headaches. (Perry, Bachmann lead in July Daily Caller/Conservative Home tracking poll)
Her husband, Marcus Bachmann, met his wife at LAX and ushered her to a nearby urgent care center. Though Bachmann managed to attend several events in California, including an appearance before a California chapter of the Eagle Forum and a fundraiser in Palm Springs, she struggled through the weekend, in pain throughout.
On October 19, 2010, Bachmann fell apart at a Greenwich, Conn., fundraiser at the home of Craig Stevenson, CEO of Diamond S Shipping. She was put in a bed at Stevenson’s home and later checked into an urgent care facility near LaGuardia Airport.
Back in February 2006, Bachmann checked into the hospital for what a press release called “an appendicitis attack,” according to an archive of her website. “Michele felt very well immediately after the surgery but then suffered from complications, including nausea and intense migraines,” the press release reads.
Of particular concern to some around her is the significant amount of medication Bachmann takes to address her condition.
The former aide says Bachmann’s congressional staff is “constantly” in contact with her doctors to tweak the types and amounts of medicine she is taking. Marcus Bachmann helps her manage the episodes.
Sources who spoke to The Daily Caller said they did so because they are terrified about the impact the condition could have on Bachmann’s performance if she actually became president. They also worry that the issue could blow up in the general election campaign, giving President Obama an easy path to re-election.
“It’s a careful choice of words I used: ‘incapacitated,’” the adviser says.
“As president, when she’s in crisis management mode, is she going to have the physical ability to withstand the most difficult challenges facing America?” the former aide asks.
TheDC agreed to provide the sources anonymity because they were providing information only a select group of people could know, at great professional risk.
Two sources independently provided detailed accounts of Bachmann’s condition. A third source confirmed that Bachmann frequently suffers from debilitating headache episodes.
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