A few years ago, after I was diagnosed, I moved my care to a bigger hospital. I saw my GI attending doctor for about 5 minutes each visit; most of my care was through the GI fellow. He made a huge difference in my life.
From the beginning, he was kind. He treated me like an equal. He made eye contact. He saw that I was afraid and suffering and didn’t get annoyed with me. He gave me his cell phone number and actually talked to me outside of office hours several times. And he thought outside of the box, which changed my life.
I had an excruciating intermittent pain in my left side that was not explained by any tests I’d had, including a full abdominal MRI. For years, I had suffered with severe menstrual pain, which had gotten steadily worse, and the GI fellow theorized that I had endometriosis which was also affecting my bowel. I had tried many treatments to try to help with my menstrual pain, but nothing helped. I have a great gynecologist now, but my previous gynecologist had gotten angry with me for repeatedly going to her in agony and had also scared me about the surgery needed to diagnose endometriosis, so I had stopped talking about it.
My GI fellow worked with my gynecologist to schedule laparoscopic surgery to see if I had endometriosis and remove any they found. My surgery took twice as long as it was supposed to because the adhesions were so extensive. It turned out that my whole abdominal cavity was full of adhesions; it was on my bladder, peritoneum, and had twisted my colon – when stool passed through that part of my colon, it caused intense pain. After the surgery, the left side pain was gone. It was nothing short of miraculous. I still had all my other symptoms, but I was so grateful to have that pain gone.
The fellow was my doctor for the next year. He saw me through NJ tubes and multiple hospitalizations. And then, one day, I went to my appointment and he wasn’t there. I was so disappointed! He was the only reason I was staying with that GI doctor; after he left I ended up finding a new GI at a different hospital. I tried to track the GI fellow down because I wanted to follow him to his new practice, but the hospital either couldn’t or didn’t want to tell me where he went, and I couldn’t find a solid lead online. I was never able to thank him and tell him how much of an impact he had in my life. I hope he knows.
This article was also published in the December issue of the AGMD Lighthouse.