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Former Speaker Bense leaves rehab hospital, back home in Panama City

From the News Service of Florida:

Former House Speaker Allan Bense, R-Panama City, will be home for the holidays after undergoing more than a month of rehabilitation in Atlanta for a rare, debilitating disease.

Bense, 62, was discharged Friday from the neurological rehabilitation program at the Shepherd Center, the Atlanta facility said in a news release. Bense was moved to the center Nov. 4, after being diagnosed in September with Guillain Barré syndrome, a disorder that attacks the nervous system and can lead to paralysis.

"I have not been in my home for almost four months," Bense said in the news release. "I am looking forward to this weekend and being in my home and in the city and state I so dearly love."

On Wednesday, Bense's wife, Tonie, posted a blog item that said the former speaker would be able to go home.

"We are both eager to get back to Panama City to celebrate Christmas with our family,'' Tonie Bense wrote in the blog on the CaringBridge website. "We were committed to stay here if we needed to but Allan is far enough along to continue the physical therapy needed to walk without a walker. He continues to amaze me everyday. In a few more months he should be back in full swing. Guillian Barre is a very painful disease and he is still in excruciating pain particularly at night."

Bense was a member of the House from 1998 to 2006, serving the final two years as speaker.