BANGKOK – Thailand's 84-year-old king has recovered from minor bleeding around the brain, the royal palace said Friday, but still canceled a day trip to western Thailand. It would have been his fourth such recent excursion outside the hospital where he has stayed for more than two-and-a-half years.
The trips are seemingly meant to raise his profile after his extended absence from the public eye, especially as Thailand goes through a period of possible political turbulence.
The palace's statement said King Bhumibol Adulyadej had twitching in his right hand and a slightly increased pulse rate Thursday evening before a computer scan found bleeding in the brain's outer membrane. He was given medicine intravenously and recovered Friday morning, with a normal pulse rate and blood pressure and no more twitching.
The palace said doctors urged the king not to take on any duties for a while.
Bhumibol has been staying at Bangkok's Siriraj Hospital since September 2009. Originally treated for lung inflammation, he had a spinal tap procedure last year to reduce excess cerebrospinal fluid causing pressure on his brain. He was treated for abdominal bleeding that caused a sharp drop in his blood pressure in November, and for a painful digestive condition in January.
The king had been scheduled to visit a development project Sunday in the western province of Ratchaburi. In May, he made a highly publicized trip to Thailand's old capital of Ayutthaya, wearing an army uniform for the occasion, and since then he has made two boat trips for ceremonial occasions.
Thailand's monarchy once had near-universal respect among Thais, but the king's fading from public life and the palace's perceived role in the nation's political battles have tarnished the institution in recent years.
The political troubles and the concurrent decline in Bhumibol's health have kindled uncertainty about the monarchy's future. Even though there is an heir apparent, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, there is uncertainty about his capacity to rule.
The announcement on the king's health came the same day Thailand's Constitutional Court decided the ruling Pheu Thai party was inappropriately trying to amend the constitution. But the court rejected the more serious charge that the bill was an effort to overthrow the governing system of constitutional monarchy.
The court could have ordered the ruling party dissolved, and speculation had been high that such an order would have triggered protests and possible violence.