Sen. Edward M. Kennedy had just left a hospital bed here when he delivered his speech to the Democratic National Convention on Monday night, after suffering a debilitating bout of kidney stones on Sunday upon arriving in town, aides said.
Kennedy’s aides described a harrowing 48-hour period in which it appeared that Kennedy would not be able to give the convention speech. In June, he had told family members when he left the Duke University Medical Center, where he was operated on for brain cancer, that he was intent on giving the speech.
And with less than two hours to go before he was supposed to take the stage, Kennedy — sitting unnoticed in a room at the University of Colorado Hospital — told his wife, Victoria, and doctors that he wanted to go to the Pepsi Center and deliver the speech.
He was driven there, accompanied by a doctor and paramedics, perched on a golf cart that took him inside. Kennedy, with his wife and his niece Caroline at his side, walked gingerly onto the stage, where he delivered a highly acclaimed address. He then returned to the hospital, where he spent the night.
This sequence of events described by Kennedy associates added another dramatic layer to the appearance by Kennedy that riveted Democrats and produced a sustained and tearful reception among the delegates.
His aides said that after Kennedy finally decided he was well enough to come to Denver over the weekend, they became alarmed when he arrived on Sunday after a long charter airplane flight, accompanied by family members, aides and doctors, and reported being in excruciating pain.
Their first concern was that the pain was somehow related to his cancer, or the chemotherapy and radiology he had undergone, and that it had been complicated by the long flight or the high altitude of the city. A visit to a local hospital Sunday night revealed it was kidney stones and was unrelated to his cancer.
Kennedy had no previous history of kidney stones, aides said.
One close associate, who requested anonymity to discuss any element of Kennedy’s medical condition, disclosed that the senator had suffered an unspecified but serious setback in July after he flew to Washington in the midst of treatment to cast a vote on a Medicare bill.