US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton received a standing ovation from her staff and a football helmet to protect her from Washington’s hard knocks as she returned to work after a health scare.
A month to the day since she was last seen on official duties when she flew back from a trip to Europe on Dec. 7, Clinton chaired her regular weekly Monday meeting with her closest staff and advisers.
“It is a great day here in the department ... Secretary Clinton is back to work,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, adding that the 75 people present at the meeting had welcomed her with a standing ovation.
Clinton, 65, suffered a blood clot to her head after a fall last month.
She now “looks fantastic, she seems to be terrific,” Nuland said. “She is in the pink, literally. She’s wearing a brilliant pink jacket today.”
As a joke, the staff presented her with a white football helmet, with “lots of good padding” bearing the State Department’s seal, and a blue football jersey printed with the words “Clinton” and “112,” to signify the number of countries she has visited during her four-year tenure, Nuland said.
US Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides presented the gift in a big box, handing it over with a warning about life in Washington being “a contact sport,” the spokeswoman said.
Clinton had first succumbed to a virulent stomach virus, but then became dehydrated and fell, suffering a concussion. Doctors say the blood clot found later in a vein behind her right ear most likely resulted from the fall.
There are still some outstanding dossiers for Clinton to deal with before she steps down as secretary of state, with US Senator John Kerry tapped by US President Barack Obama to replace her.
Notably, US lawmakers are expecting her to testify on the killings of four Americans, including late US ambassador Chris Stevens, in the attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 last year..