Santa Monica, Calif. Former President Ronald Reagan was in stable condition Sunday but still facing a difficult recovery one day after his broken hip was put back together with a pin, plate and screws.
Reagan, who has Alzheimer's disease and will be 90 on Feb. 6, was eating and preparing later in the day to sit up for the first time since Saturday's 65-minute surgery at Saint John's Health Center, said Reagan chief of staff Joanne Drake.
"He is taking very little pain medication which, according to Dr. Kevin Ehrhart, his orthopedic surgeon, is quite remarkable for a patient with a hip repair of this nature," Drake said.
The next step in what was expected to be a long recovery and physical therapy was for the former president to sit up, Drake said.
Nancy Reagan has been at her husband's side since he fell Friday afternoon at their Bel-Air home.
"She spent the night again in his room," Drake said. The couple celebrate their 49th wedding anniversary March 4, when the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is to be christened by the former first lady.
Ehrhart said after the operation that Reagan's tissue and bone were remarkably like that of a younger man.
"The condition of the president's tissue, specifically the muscle and bone, was that of a much younger man, which obviously helps substantially with his recovery," the surgeon said, adding later that recovery is a "long, uphill struggle."
Mrs. Reagan was buoyed by the outpouring of well-wishes from around the world, Drake said, including messages from former Presidents George Bush and Gerald Ford as well as President-elect George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Prince Charles, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and former Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone also have sent messages.
At the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley on Sunday, dozens of well-wishers signed a giant get-well note that was surrounded by bouquets of flowers.
"Godspeed in your recovery. America cannot thank you enough," wrote Christian Horton of Mission Hills, Calif.
Mrs. Reagan urged well-wishers to send greetings to the Reagan Foundation Web site.