Grateful Patient Stories: Noreen Lytikainen
My disease was diagnosed in the 1980's and continued with flares and remissions until late in 2008. From that point, any remission that I had was short lived. I changed GI doctors to one in my hometown who was not only highly recommended, but also the Chief of Staff at our community hospital. After a couple of hospitalizations, unsuccessful trials of various medications which included the latest biologics, my health continued to worsen. I couldn't leave my home without adult diapers. No more traveling, no more lunch with the "girls," and no more life as I knew it.
My son, who is a physician, did some research and found Dr. Raymond Cross at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. They talked on the phone and I grudgingly decided to try one more physician.
What a difference! As soon as I walked into the 8th floor GI suite, I could feel the friendliness of the staff. The entire staff was eager to make me feel comfortable. Talking to Dr. Cross was like being reunited with a family friend. He explained all of my options with as much detail as I wanted and let me participate in my own care. How empowered I felt! There was no rush. ‘Ask as many questions you want.’ Best of all, ‘email me with any questions you might think of later.’ What a change!
During the course of treatment, I did indeed email him and other support staff with questions and test results. Each time, I was astounded with the rapid response. Honestly, I felt like I was Dr. Cross’s only patient and I was a family member! I found the same compassionate care with the infusion nurses and the entire staff at the Division of Gastroenterology/Hepatology.
In November, 2011, I decided to have a sub total colectomy. As you know, this is a drastic surgery necessitating an ostomy and wearing a bag on my abdomen. Despite my fears, it was the best thing I've done! The skill of my surgeon, Dr. Andrea Bafford, the patience of my ostomy nurses, and most importantly, the guidance and incredible knowledge of Dr. Cross contributed to the full life that I now enjoy!
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the residents and fellows who cared for me during my visits and hospital stays. Each one treated me with respect and concern, proving once again that the leader of any team sets the tone.
I will always be grateful to the University of Maryland and their incredible staff. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share my experience with you.