Rep. Debbie Dingell hospitalized after emergency ulcer surgery

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., underwent emergency surgery on Friday for a perforated ulcer and is expected to be hospitalized for several days while she recovers.

"The procedure was successful and she is recovering well," her spokesperson, Mackenzie Smith said in a statement sent Friday night. Dingell, 67, also underwent jaw surgery earlier this year.

The surgery was performed at George Washington University Hospital in Washington and Dingell is expected to recover for five to seven days. In a message to the Detroit Free Press, she said she started to have a stomach ache Thursday that got worse Friday.

Debbie Dingell, U.S. Representative for Michigans 12th district, speaks at a groundbreaking for the Joe Louis Greenway on Monday, May 17, 2021, in Detroit.
Debbie Dingell, U.S. Representative for Michigans 12th district, speaks at a groundbreaking for the Joe Louis Greenway on Monday, May 17, 2021, in Detroit.

The always-energetic congresswoman seemed in good spirits, however.

"I may actually have to give up junk food and Diet Coke," she said.

A well-known politician in Michigan and Washington and a regular guest on news shows, Dingell is coming off a week in which she greeted President Joe Biden at Detroit Metro Airport and went with him as he toured Ford's electric vehicle facility in her district on Tuesday.

Dingell, who won the seat previously held by her late husband, Rep. John Dingell, in 2014, serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is a co-chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.

John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in its history, died in 2019 at age 92. Biden, a good friend of the Dingells, delivered a eulogy for Dingell at his funeral in Dearborn.

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Lately, Debbie Dingell has been at the center of efforts in Congress to bring labor unions, environmentalists and industry together to develop policies that will encourage the adoption of electric vehicles while ensuring that workers are paid union wages.

Dingell was also one of many members of Congress who was in the Capitol at the time of the attacks by supporters of former President Donald Trump on Jan. 6 and was moved to an undisclosed location while police and National Guard battled to retake control of the building. At the time she spoke to the Free Press, clearly shaken, saying, "Is this America?" Is this the country we believe in?"

A perforated ulcer is a hole in the digestive tract often which can result in severe pain in the abdomen, loss of appetite or vomiting. It is often caused by an infection in the stomach or small intestine or the long-term use of pain medications.

Dingell has been using over-the-counter pain medications following her earlier surgery because she didn't want to use opioids. Smith said Friday after Dingell was hospitalized that she "insisted on using her (current) experience as a cautionary tale that NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as those she's been taken) can be harmful" as well.

Follow Todd Spangler on Twitter @tsspangler

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell undergoes surgery for perforated ulcer