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 “A Punch in the Gut”

Posted on September 16, 2021

Emergency Surgery and Robotic-Assisted Procedure Lead to Happy Ending for MMC Patient

Mindy and John Jen­nings moved to East Ten­nessee five years ago to be close to family. They were already familiar with the excellent medical care pro­vided at Methodist Medi­cal Center of Oak Ridge, so when Mindy suddenly awoke one cold morning in January with excruciating abdominal pain, she knew where to go.

“My husband took me to the ER at Methodist,” Jennings says. “It was de­termined that I had a per­forated bowel and needed emergency surgery. We arrived around 8:50 in the morning and I was in sur­gery by 10:30 a.m.”

Mindy Jennings and her husband John are thankful for the expert surgical teams at Methodist Medical Center.
Mindy Jennings and her husband John are thankful for the expert surgical teams at Methodist Medical Center.

Marc Campbell, DO, board-certified general surgeon at Methodist Med­ical Center, was on call that day. Jennings says, “I joked that he was the lucky one that got me that day, but really it’s me who is lucky. I am so grateful he was there. He ultimately saved my life.”

Jennings had unknow­ingly been suffering diver­ticulitis, or a condition in which tiny pouches in the colon called diverticula become inflamed or in­fected. During her emer­gency surgery, Dr. Camp­bell performed an open sigmoid colectomy with end colostomy. During this procedure, part of the colon is removed and the remaining ends of the colon are attached to each other.

Dr. Campbell says, “She had a perforated diverticu­litis. That means one of the pouches in her colon had become inflamed and rup­tured, causing a hole in her colon. She presented with sepsis, so she was really sick when she came in. We temporized and removed the diseased part of her colon. A colostomy was done at that time.”

Jennings stayed at the hospital for seven days. “Methodist handled every­thing quickly, efficiently and got me comfortable. I received an ostomy bag,” she says.

“A Punch in the Gut”

“Life changed big time,” she says. “Our concern in the hospital was learning how to take care of my os­tomy bag. The wound care nurse came several times, sometimes twice a day. It wasn’t just the nursing staff – administrative nurses checked on me, too. The morning I left, everyone wanted to be sure I was pre­pared and knew what to do.”

Jennings, who just turned 50, describes learn­ing a “new way of life.” With her husband’s sup­port, she navigated wound care, home health and man­aging a careful diet. “I felt like the start of this year punched me in the gut – literally,” she jokes.

Robotic-Assisted Surgery for Ostomy Reversal

Marc Campbell, DO, General Surgeon
Marc Campbell, DO, General Surgeon

Despite having part of her colon removed, the surgeon told her she would be a possible candidate for an ostomy reversal after her intestines healed. Af­ter three months of home health, follow-up visits and testing that showed intesti­nal healing, Dr. Campbell described a robotic-assist­ed procedure to his patient to reverse the ostomy. This procedure includes use of a special camera to ensure the connection is well-fused and blood flow is restored in the colon.

Dr. Campbell says, “Ro­botic surgeries allow bet­ter visualization and pre­cision for the surgeon and smaller incisions for the patient, which lead to less pain and shorter recovery. So robotic-assisted sur­gery allows overall better outcomes and gets people back to their lives.”

Comparing the two surgery experiences, Jen­nings says the robotic surgery was a breeze. “For the first procedure, he couldn’t use the robot because of everything he had to do. But I was a can­didate for a reversal after I had healed from the initial surgery. The hospital stay was shorter, and I did have some initial pain day one after the robotic-assisted surgery, but by day two I felt so much better.”

According to Dr. Camp­bell, “Usually patients who have had an open colosto­my reversal or even laparo­scopic surgery need to be in the hospital for at least one week. With the robotic approach, the patient was ultimately able to be dis­charged home three days after surgery. She did ex­ceptionally well and had a very good outcome.”

Excellent Care at Methodist

“Dr. Campbell is one of the best doctors I have interacted with,” Jennings says. “He has an excellent bedside manner and ex­plained everything to me with common terms. He made sure I knew and was OK with what was going on. Both my husband and I felt at ease with him.”

Jennings has been cleared for normal move­ment and activities, and does not have any food restrictions. She says she would recommend Dr. Campbell and the surgery team at Methodist to any­one who needs them. “Dr Campbell is amazing,” she says, “but I hope no one needs him like I did!”