Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) said yesterday that he had tried to get ailing Sen. John P. East (R-N.C.) out of the hospital for the 50-to-49 vote on the fiscal 1986 budget but that East's wife overruled the idea.
Dole told reporters after the early-morning vote, which ended when Vice President Bush broke a tie, that East had been up and about at Bethesda Naval Medical Center but Priscilla East felt that a premature return might affect his recovery.
East, 54, was hospitalized April 20 for acute hypothyroidism and, according to initial reports from his office, was expected to return to work within three weeks.
On Wednesday, however, his physician at the hospital, Dr. John O'Brian, chief of endocrinology, said in a statement that he was still trying to achieve proper levels of medication and that this could take three more weeks.
East's condition, sometimes called myxedema, has been described as "a chemical imbalance which can be medically corrected" and is produced by defective activity of the thyroid gland, which controls metabolism.
According to East's press aide, Jerry Woodruff, O'Brian said that East was "responding quite well to treatment" with synthetic hormones "and a complete recovery is expected."
The statement was issued in response to inquiries from The Washington Post as to whether the senator's condition might be more serious than first reported. However, the statement did not address the specific questions posed.
Asked about the matter again yesterday, Woodruff said, "The East family has asked that no other information be released." As a consequence, he said he could neither confirm nor deny whether the senator had shown signs of aberrant behavior sometimes associated with hypothyroidism.
According to the Merck Manual, the symptoms and signs are generally striking, including dull facial expression, drooping eyelids, coarse skin and sparseness of hair. "Patients are forgetful, and show other evidence of intellectual impairment," it says.
At the same time, according to Black's Medical Dictionary, "When the case is treated, improvement almost always takes place with great rapidity, and treatment is effective even after the person has been ill for many years."
Mrs. East could not be reached for comment.