Toronto Mayor Rob Ford intends to return to work Friday after spending two days in the hospital recovering from a throat irritation that aggravated his asthma and left him "gasping for air."
"I'm doing everything the doctors told me not to do," the mayor said, laughing as he described his plans to attend the Taste of the Danforth festival this weekend. "They said go home and relax for a few days."
Mr. Ford made the comments in an interview on Toronto radio station AM640 following two days of intense public interest in his health – a phenomenon he said he welcomes as mayor.
"I think you have every right to know. You're my boss, right?" he said. "You pay my wages and when something's wrong the taxpayers should be the first to know. My life's an open book and that's how I keep it."
Mr. Ford spoke to the radio station after leaving Humber River Regional Hospital by a back entrance Thursday, out of sight of reporters who had been camped on the hospital's lawn for two days waiting for the mayor's staff to make a live statement that never came.
Instead, Isaac Ransom, the mayor's special assistant for communications, tweeted news of Mr. Ford's release, along with a picture of the mayor standing next to a nurse holding a bouquet of flowers.
"Thanks to everyone at Humber River [Regional Hospital,]" Mr. Ransom tweeted. "Mayor has left, in good spirits, good health and ready to get back to [City Hall.]"
The dearth of official information about what prompted the mayor to check himself into hospital Tuesday only fed into larger concerns about Mr. Ford's health.
The mayor, who has had asthma "all his life," according to his brother, was treated for kidney stones last year. The mayor has also expressed concerns about the adverse health effects of his weight, a worry that prompted him to launch a public weight-loss contest earlier this year.
The mayor fell short of his goal of shedding 50 lbs from his 330-lb frame, losing 17 lbs during his "Cut the Waist Challenge."
Mr. Ford told the radio audience that he went to the hospital Tuesday after an unidentified allergic reaction.
"I just wanted to be able to breathe ... I was just gasping for air. Something triggered my asthma and then went down to my esophagus so I couldn't get anything down," he said, adding this was the first time he'd suffered such a reaction.
"It could even be from my inhaler, they said."
Councillor Doug Ford said Torontonians should not be worried about the mayor's health or his fitness to stand for re-election in 2014.
"Rob's healthy as a horse. He's a workaholic … sometimes you go overboard," the councillor said.
With report from Kim Mackrael