Red Wings legend Gordie Howe, 86, has taken a turn for the worse in his recovery from a severe stroke on Oct. 26.
"It's tough for dad right now," Howe's son, Mark, told The Detroit News on Sunday.
Mark is a Red Wings scout who is in Lubbock, Texas, with his sister Cathy, caring for Gordie.
"The last three to five days he's been suffering considerably," Mark said. "We're doing everything we can. We just don't want him to suffer."
On Nov. 4, the Red Wings issued an encouraging press release regarding Howe. It read, in part, "The Howe family is pleased to report that over the past week Mr. Hockey has been recovering at a remarkable rate, including his speech, and his ability to walk with the assistance of a walker."
However, Mark on Sunday said Gordie suffered a second, less severe stroke one week ago, and his situation is now in decline. Gordie has complications that include debilitating back pain, high blood pressure and anxiety.
Mark said the family is considering an epidural to relieve some of Gordie's back pain. But if Gordie, who is also in the advanced stages of dementia, has an epidural, he'd have to be taken off other medications that relieve his high blood pressure and anxiety.
"It's a Catch-22," Mark said. "He hasn't been able to do any rehab work. We're just trying to do what we can to alleviate his pain. We don't want to see him in this pain."
Despite the pain and discomfort, Mark is amazed and encouraged by the toughness of his father.
"We know there's still fight in there, and Gordie is still in there," he said. "He hasn't disappeared. We know it and he knows it and we keep on trying to do what we can to give him a chance.
"He recognizes people around him today. He looked into my eyes. We're doing all we can do."