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On the Road Again

Posted on July 9, 2020 in Patient Stories

Perry Warren and his wifeTruck driver Perry Warren had settled into the back of the cab to sleep near Phoenix, Arizona. His wife had taken the wheel.

He didn’t sleep for long.

“I woke up screaming,” Warren says. “I don’t know how to explain it other than it’s a ‘crying, hating, wanting to punch something and wanting somebody to hold you at the same time’ feeling, and it was the absolute worst pain I’ve ever had.”

He yelled for his wife to pull over and call for help. A little later at a nearby hospital, Warren learned he was suffering from severe diverticulitis.

A Rare and Extreme Case

Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center surgeon Joseph Thurman, MD, says it’s normal for small pouches to develop from the wall of the large intestine as a person ages. For most people, it’s not a problem.

But when those pouches get infected or rupture, it’s painful and sometimes even dangerous. Dr. Thurman says Warren had an extreme case of diverticulitis.

“He is in a very small minority of patients. Maybe one to two percent get as sick as Mr. Warren did,” Dr. Thurman says.

Warren stayed in an Arizona hospital for about a week until his condition was stabilized. Then he and his wife crossed 2500 miles to get back home to East Tennessee. Warren was very sick, but he wanted to be near his family. He also wanted his surgery to be performed at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center.

Emergency Surgery

“We had to take out the affected part of the colon,” Dr. Thurman says, “and because he had been sick for so long and had so much leakage from the colon, we had to take part of the small intestine that had become involved, too.”

After successful surgery, Warren went home from the hospital as soon as Dr. Thurman approved. By the time his first follow-up visit came around, Warren was ready to shift recovery into high gear.

“I grabbed him and hugged him – I stunned him,” Warren laughs. “I said, ‘Thank you for saving my life.’”

Thankful and Grateful

Dr. Thurman later performed follow-up surgery to reverse a colostomy and ileostomy. Today, Warren is praising Dr. Thurman, and not just for the doctor’s surgical skills.

“There are some things in life that just wake you up, shake you real good and make you thankful,” Warren says. “To know there are people out there that do what they do because they care about somebody they don’t know means more to me than anything.”