Five weeks ago my 91 yr. old mother was admitted to the hospital because she had a distended stomach, was constipated and had severe pain along the lower right rib and around to the middle of her back. An ultrasound test for gallstones was negative, so they concentrated on the constipation. She was told that the pain was probably just from the constipation and would go away in time. After she was able to have one bowel movement she was dismissed to the nursing home.
The constipation returned within a couple of days, and the pain continued. She was given Ultram and then finally Vicodan. A week later she was re-admitted because of critically low chloride, sodium, and potassium levels. Her thyroid level was tested and both the T3 & T4 and THS were elevated. They stopped her levothyroxin (levothyroxine) and started an IV with sodium chloride and potassium. They tested the gall bladder as to the per cent of function. It was functioning at 23%. Gall Bladder surgery was scheduled four different times, but each time the electrolite levels were too low. Meanwhile, the pain was treated with massage therapy and icy-hot along with heated blankets on the rib & back area. After a few days the pain went away. They decided to put off the surgery indefinitely as the gall bladder was not infected nor inflamed. They ordered an MRI to check the pituitary gland which looked normal. Without solving the problem of the low electrolites they unhooked the IV and sent her back to the nursing home with orders to test the electrolites twice a week and to give a potassium rich diet. She is also on oxygen now because she has a slight case of pneumonia which she got while on an antibiotic. They changed the kind of antibiotic. They suggested that after 3 weeks she should see an endocrinologist to see what is going on with her thyroid.
The home's nursing staff was appalled that after being in the hospital for 13 days she was returned to them in worse shape than when she was admitted. She has always looked and acted much younger than her years. The past three weeks have aged her by at least 10 years. If this were your mother, what action would you take?
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