In the summer of 2008, Laura Love started getting sick with symptoms she’d never experienced before. Feeling run down with what she thought was working too much overtime, she decided to see her primary care doctor. After a round of tests – everything from mono to leukemia – the doctors still didn’t know what was wrong. They admitted her to the hospital, and a hospitalist caring for her finally found a diagnosis.
“The hospitalist believed he understood what was causing me so much pain,” remembers Laura. “After a CT scan they diagnosed me with ulcerative colitis.”
It turned out to be very fortunate that Laura was already in the hospital. When she was using the bathroom, she lost three liters of blood, and was taken for emergency surgery where Shauna Lorenzo-Rivera ,M.D. removed her colon. This started her on the process of creating a J-pouch and adjusting to life without her colon.
“I’ve always been so afraid of doctors and having surgery was my biggest fear,” Laura says. “But Dr. Lorenzo encouraged me and answered my questions – she was a big part of me staying calm throughout the entire process.”
Beginning the Recovery Process
After recovering from her initial surgery, Dr. Lorenzo performed the second surgery in July 2009 that created the J-pouch. The J-pouch, a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure, is a way for people who have had their colon removed to find relief from their symptoms, have better control of their bowel movements, and it does not require a permanent ileostomy.
For Laura, the second surgery took a little longer than the first for her to recover. Dr. Lorenzo explained that staples were used in a manner that was similar to her intestine being quilted. She was back to work in a few weeks, and she continued to regain her strength. After the J-pouch healed, her ileostomy bag was removed.
Laura is thankful she was able to have a J-pouch that provides normalcy and consistency to her bowel movements and allows her to be active and have fun with her husband.
“I love talking to people about the surgery and the condition that could have cost me my life,” Laura says. “I try to tell people that they should not let their condition get to a critical point where it’s dangerous. The surgery is something that you want to plan and prepare for.”
Finding Support in All the Right Places
Laura believes her recovery and return to her active lifestyle is the result to three things: her faith in God, her positive attitude and her solid support system. She also gives high praise to Dr. Lorenzo, who was definitely part of the team that provided peace and comfort during this difficult time.
“I have the utmost regard for Dr. Lorenzo and recommend her to anyone who is facing a health concern like mine. She walked me through the scariest point in my life,” says Laura. When I was in the critical care unit, I could count on her first thing in the morning. She held my hand, treated me like her friend and answered every question completely. I’m so thankful she was my surgeon.”Laura Love