I just finished a thirty-minute phone call with Dr. Peele, the doctor who is seeing mom while she is at Woodland Terrace. After a quick introduction, I told him that the reason I wanted to talk to him was because of the prescription he’d given her for levothyroxine last week.

Dr. Peele said that every new resident is given a standard TSH test, and that mom’s was reported as 16.1, which is approximately four times what is considered normal. 1 He said that when your body thinks that its thyroid isn’t functioning correctly, it starts producing TSH to compensate. I asked him if this could have just started, because Dr. Escander specifically told me on May 29th that her thyroid had been tested and was fine. Dr. Peele said that the septic shock — for which she was admitted to Halifax on May 16th — could have caused the problem with her thyroid. I asked him how that could be, since that was on May 16th and Dr. Escander said her thyroid was fine on May 29th, and he said that your body keeps “reserves” of TSH in your system for weeks. 2

Dr. Peele said that because of her condition it is very important to make sure her TSH levels are corrected, but that it takes a long time to see if the body is responding, and that he would run the tests again in eight weeks. 3

At this point in the call I stopped and gave Dr. Peele the expanded and thorough twenty-minute version of mom’s history. I apologized several times for taking so much of his time, but he seemed to genuinely be interested and told me he was thankful for all the extra information he could get.

Dr. Peele said that he would take a look at everything, and that he wanted to review what tests she’d been given so far.

He said that the problem with Aricept is that there is no accepted method to test someone for Alzheimer’s, and that Aricept is used to treat anyone suspected of having it — or any other brain injury — but nobody really knows if it works. He said he didn’t know of any research that indicated that it actually could improve a person’s brain functions, but there was evidence that stopping administering Aricept once it had been started could cause a decline in brain function; and that resuming the administration of it wouldn’t return a person to “normal”.

I told Dr. Peele that I was scared, because Jessica told me that (at my request) Susan had discontinued the Aricept on July 9th. He said that he was fairly confident that mom was still getting Aricept, which led me to be even more concerned because it would mean that Jessica et.al. had failed to give me a complete list of her medications. Dr. Peele said that he would review her current medications and he would let me know.

He also said that he knew Sherri had a psychologist and a psychiatrist who regularly visit Woodland Terrace and that they should be able to start seeing mom. He said that it was difficult to determine if mom had suffered any brain injury when she went into septic shock, and that if she had there may be no way for her to ever return to “normal”. 4

Dr. Peele said that he would do as much research as he could and that he would call me on Thursday (July 19th) to follow up. I told him about this website and he said it sounded like it would be very helpful to review.

1 I’m a little annoyed that nobody explained to me that mom was given the TSH test and that was what prompted Dr. Peele to prescribe the levothyroxine; if someone had simply told me that I would not have questioned the medication and had them discontinue it.
2 Dr. Peele said you could remove someone’s thyroid and it could be as long as two weeks before tests could tell you.
3 So of course now I am the bad guy for making them discontinue the levothyroxine; and I’m mad at myself because I didn’t think to ask him if he would call them and resume it.
4 That was pretty hard to hear.