Alan's Story: Laparoscopic Procedure Reduces Recovery Time

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Alan Boerger, PhD, was tired of being sick to his stomach. A few years ago the Troy-based psychologist started having episodes of being bloated, nauseous, and suffering an uncomfortable full feeling that often led to vomiting. This condition was invading his life. At the rehearsal dinner of his daughter’s wedding, he had to leave because of extreme nausea; once on Thanksgiving Day, he landed in the hospital emergency department.

The episodes were becoming more frequent, making life difficult for Alan and his wife, Janet. He saw a gastroenterologist who said the problem was a hiatal hernia, which means part of the stomach has slid up through the diaphragm into the chest cavity. Often hiatal hernias exhibit no symptoms but this was not the case with Alan. He chose to just “wait and see” about his condition.

In a 2014 visit to the Emergency Department at the Upper Valley Medical Center (UVMC) in Troy, part of Premier Health, Alan realized the problem wasn’t going to go away. “The emergency room physician made a comment that it may have been the biggest hernia he had ever seen,” recalls Alan, age 68.

Enough is Enough

In February 2015, a particularly bad episode for Alan sent him back to the Emergency Department once again and this time he was admitted to UVMC. L. Stewart Lowry, MD, of Miami County Surgeons, part of Premier Physician Network, recommended laparoscopic surgery to correct the hiatal hernia. This less invasive procedure is done with small incisions, resulting in quicker recovery time for most patients.

“I liked Dr. Lowry quite a bit,” Alan shares. “He’s mild mannered, easy going, and knows how to explain a procedure. When you’re feeling lousy, that’s especially important.”

Dr. Lowry wanted Alan, who was very dehydrated, to first gain some strength after this debilitating episode. After three days in the hospital, Alan went home and got stronger. Three weeks later he was back at UVMC for Dr. Lowry to perform a laparoscopic surgery on Alan’s hiatal hernia. Alan was surprised by how easy the recovery was.

“I was really pleased with the effects of the surgery,” Alan says. “It fixed the problem and I did lose quite a bit of weight. I think my cholesterol came down. My blood pressure came down. So there have been some good side effects.”

Best of all, Alan can eat and not worry he’s going to get sick. His life has resumed, including being able to enjoy golf.

He encourages other people to not put off a procedure they need. “The whole process was really not as difficult as I expected it to be,” he shares. “I think it works so well that it, you know, is well worth doing it sooner.”