A Thanksgiving Miracle
A visit to the emergency room ended up solving a three-year mystery for Jennell.
Imagine throwing up every day for three years and not knowing why. This was Jennell's reality. Until the weekend after Thanksgiving this past year when everything changed.
Jennell had seen every type of specialist you could imagine — gastroenterologists, homeopaths — you name it. She had scans and MRIs. She adopted a strict diet of fruits, vegetables, and meats — nothing with additives. She tried everything. But day after day for three years, she still vomited.
"It was awful," Jennell says. "No one knew what was wrong, and I tried everything to make it better."
This past Thanksgiving weekend, Jennell had just gone to bed on Saturday night when she started to experience excruciating stomach pains. "I kept trying different positions to relieve the pain, but eventually I told my husband to call an ambulance."
Jennell explains that typically she goes to larger hospitals in adjacent cities because her perception has been that smaller hospitals don't have the capability to treat patients as well. But on this particular night they went to the closest emergency room, which was at Brigham City Community Hospital.
"The hospital was great. The staff were great. And the doctor was one of the best and finest I've ever encountered."
She explains what happened next as miraculous.
After some scans in the emergency room, it was determined that Jennell's gall bladder needed to be removed. (As a side note, Jennell had a gastric bypass surgery 12 years prior – a surgery where a small stomach pouch is created to restrict food intake, then a Y-shaped section of the small intestine is attached to the pouch to allow food to bypass the lower stomach.)
Dr. Cody Nebeker was the general surgeon on call that day. He also happens to be the only bariatric surgeon north of Salt Lake City.
"He told me that when we did the gall bladder surgery, he would also explore to see what else may be going on given the proximity of the gall bladder to the stomach," Jennell says.
So Jennell was admitted to the hospital with the surgery planned for Monday morning. And Dr. Nebeker did, indeed, find something. And not just something — the cause of Jennell’s vomiting every day for three years.
"The remnant portion of my stomach that wasn't in use after my gastric bypass had been bleeding and oozing bile for several years," Jennell explains. "Ulcers had also developed, and all of that combined had also impacted my gall bladder."
Dr. Nebeker removed Jennell's gall bladder as well as the remnant portion of her stomach. And she hasn't thrown up since.
"What are the odds that the surgeon on call would also be trained in bariatrics and be the only one trained to look for what my issue was?" Jennell says. Dr. Nebeker says unless you're trained to look for it, you'd miss it. "I believe in miracles, and I believe it was a miracle I ended up at Brigham City Community Hospital that night."
Jennell is originally from Portland and explains that she didn't realize a small hospital would be able to offer such specialized care.
"The hospital was great. The staff were great. And the doctor was one of the best and finest I've ever encountered," Jennell says.
Now a few months after surgery, Jennell is recovering well. Having thrown up daily for so long, she had gotten very thin but says she is starting to get her strength back and is so happy for her new lease on life.