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Howe slowed after minor stroke, serious back pain @NHLdotcom

Gordie Howe's health has taken a downturn because of a minor stroke and back pain that is causing his blood pressure to fluctuate into dangerous areas, according to

"The last 10 days have been difficult," Mark Howe, Gordie's son, told "His health is trending in the opposite direction. Right now it's a lot for Dad to handle."

Mark Howe said the 86-year-old Mr. Hockey had a small stroke a week ago and has been bed-ridden since then.

Prior to the latest issue Gordie had been making positive steps after having a major stroke Oct. 26, including walking with assistance.

Mark Howe said the hope is an epidural in Gordie's lower spine will help alleviate the pain, which is making his dementia much worse. However he will have to be off other medication that helps his anxiety and high blood pressure.

"We're hoping and praying," Mark Howe said. "We just don't want him to suffer. If we can't get rid of his back pain it's going to be extremely difficult rehabbing the way he was 10 days ago.

"It's a continuing fight. We're just trying to give Dad the best chance to continue his road to recovery. ??? Hopefully get the epidural going and then within a week we should know which way he's headed."

Mark said there is "still fight" in his father.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed," Mark said. "He's in so much pain he can't tolerate it. It's not a good situation obviously. We don't like watching him suffer. We're doing what we have to do."

Gordie has been recovering at the home of his daughter in Lubbock, Texas.

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