Heroes come in many shapes and sizes. Heroes can be our parents, family members and friends, celebrities, sports icons, or other historical figures. For me, my hero is Dr. Stephen Kavic, an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). My name is Terri Gillmore, and I'm glad to share my story about my experiences at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

In November, I was having issues with bowel movements -- I couldn't go to the bathroom for over two days. I went to my local hospital where I was evaluated, had a colonoscopy and was diagnosed with what was believed to be a perforated appendix with an abscess.

I was transferred to UMMC where the abscess was drained, and I was discharged. As time went on, I was continuing to have increasing abdominal pain that was not responsive to my pain medications. I returned to UMMC where a repeat study showed three enterostomies and fistulas, as well as an increase in the size of the fluid collection in my pelvic area.

I was placed under the care of Dr. Kavic and his clinical team. Over the course of the next several days, Dr. Kavic ordered a course of some IV antibiotics and placed a catheter. Dr. Kavic said that my condition was not a ruptured appendix, but rather I had what was called Crohn's disease.

I was starting to feel much better and was transferred to another hospital; my hospitalization at this other facility was complicated by the fact that I had a heart attack. With my MI under control, my Crohn's disease was starting to cause further flare-ups. I was transferred back to UMMC and again placed under the care of Dr. Kavic. I felt very comfortable being under his care again. He did everything possible to keep me comfortable and reassure me that everything would be okay.

Based on the clinical information and the previous work-ups, Dr. Kavic felt that it was best to perform an operation on me. He did a diagnostic laparoscopy along with a terminal ileal resection and partial colectomy -- basically he went inside my abdomen and removed some of my colon, which was the cause of the constant flare-ups from the Crohn's disease.

I was in the hospital for about a week or so after the procedure. I was very happy with the care that I received from the nursing staff, and I was always happy to see Dr. Kavic when he made his daily visit to check up on me. I have had two recent post-operative visits, and I am just thrilled that I was under the care of Dr. Kavic. He has a great team in his clinic (Digestive Health Center) as well as a great nurse, Nurse Jenny (Jenny Harsh, R.N.), who works along side of him.

Speaking about my condition and the care that I received from Dr. Kavic makes me start to cry. For the past few months of dealing with this Crohn's condition, I thought that I was going to die. I have three kids to look after, and I was not sure what was going to happen to them. Every time that I felt that I was going to die, Dr. Kavic reassured me that I was going to be okay. He was extremely professional, compassionate and comforting. Dr. Kavic and his team at UMMC really know how to treat patients. I am just thrilled to be able to say how fantastic I feel right now. I am pain free and have had no complications since my surgery with Dr. Kavic.

I have a new outlook on my life, and I owe that to Dr. Kavic; actually Dr. Kavic has given my entire family a new outlook on life. I will never be able to express my gratitude to Dr. Kavic for saving my life and treating me with such a great level of care. I consider Dr. Kavic a member of my family now for what he did for me -- you make a tremendous difference in people's lives. I look up to a lot of people in my life for various reasons, but Dr. Kavic, I want you to know that you are my hero!

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