Overcome by emotion at a boisterous welcome home, Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden returned to his office yesterday for the first time since a blood vessel broke in his brain May 8.
"Everybody's been just so great . . . it makes you think what life's all about," he said.
Mr. Hayden, who is recuperating from surgery to repair the congenital vascular malformation, said he was happy to be back but uncomfortable at being the center of attention of noisy staffers and photographers.
He stopped speaking several times as he struggled for words to thank the county workers who confronted him with cheers and a "Welcome Back, Roger" sign in the hallway outside his office in the old courthouse.
"I walked away from a very harrowing experience," he told the crowd. "This is really tough for me."
Mr. Hayden, 49, drove his county car to work and said that the right-side vision loss he experienced when the blood vessel broke has improved.
He said he's still missing a "sliver" of vision on his upper right side and a "chunk" on the lower right side. But he said his doctors had given him permission to drive and that he hopes more vision will return. He now has three new pairs of glasses -- for sun, reading and general use.
He said he plans to work partial days until August and then return to a full schedule. Yesterday's stint lasted from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Mr. Hayden said he has been exercising and had jogged 2 1/2 miles Sunday. He appeared in Fourth of July parades in Dundalk and Catonsville.
Mr. Hayden, who is facing a tough re-election fight, said he feels fine, repeating several times that "I can do anything" and "I feel great."
The episode began May 8 when Mr. Hayden awakened at home with a splitting headache and vision loss on his right side.
Hospital tests revealed that a congenital problem with malformed blood vessels in the back of the brain had worsened when one of the vessels broke. Until May 8, he had suffered only periodic headaches from the condition, which was diagnosed 20 years ago.
He had brain surgery May 23 to remove the malformed blood vessels and with them the threat of further damage. Since then, he has been recuperating at his home and that of his sister.
The county executive appeared to be a bit heavier after his enforced idleness, although he said he thinks he weighs about the same as when he left office in May. His short hair reveals a long surgical scar running from the left ear straight up to the top of the head, then down the back of the skull to the neck.