December 18, 2003 05:09 PM

After spending nearly four weeks in the hospital, Stephen King left Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, Maine, on Wednesday, where he was being treated for pneumonia and lingering health problems associated with a 1999 accident in which he was hit by a van.

“He’s going home for Christmas,” King’s Bangor attorney, Warren Silver, tells PEOPLE.

The horror master (“Carrie,” “The Shining”) didn’t take pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) while in the hospital, says Silver, adding, “He’s been concentrating on getting better.”

King, 56, was hospitalized Nov. 23 and underwent surgery two days later to remove fluid and scar tissue from one of his lungs. “It’s a slow healing process and he’s in some degree of pain from the thoracotomy,” Silver said at the time. “It’s hard for him to get comfortable.”

The author was diagnosed with pneumonia before a recent trip to Manhattan, where he collected the National Book Foundation’s 2003 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, presented Nov. 19 for lifetime achievement.

His condition reportedly worsened when he returned home to Bangor, to the extent that physicians diagnosed him with pleural effusion, an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the membrane surrounding the lung.

Silver said there appeared to be a connection between King’s current malady and the June 1999 accident in which King was nearly killed when a van hit him while he was strolling on a road near his summer home in Lovell.

At the time, King sustained a broken leg and hip, a punctured lung, broken ribs and other injuries.

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