By Bill Barth

I started seeing a physician for ulcerative colitis about 22 years ago. Various medicines and other treatments did not help. I started seeing UMMC gastroenterologist Dr. Leyla Ghazi when she was at the VA Hospital in Baltimore and began a series of treatments ranging from Asacol and Prednisone to four months of infusions. Nothing helped. It tempered the issue for a time, but the ulcers continued to cause constant problems.

During the worst time I was sleeping on intervals of two hours at a time. I was exhausted. I was going to the bathroom at least 10-15 times a day. I am in sales, and this severely affected my life.

Since we tried everything, I reviewed my case with Dr. Ghazi and she suggested I meet with UMMC surgeon Dr. Andrea Bafford to explore the possibility of an operation, which I did not want any part of at the time. Dr. Bafford was very thorough in her explanation, but it sounded so final.

I went on vacation in July, and it was cut short because of my worsening condition. I called Dr. Bafford's office and they scheduled me for a complete colon removal for August. The surgery was successful, and Dr. Bafford then told me that I would be a candidate for a J-Pouch, which she performed on me. I lived with a stoma for over two months, and it was not that bad. During that time I went back to work, played golf (not right away) and even road my bike, all in moderation per the doctor's orders.

Three months later, I went back in for the reconnect surgery including the small intestine. It was successful. Within 24 hours I was experiencing results. The nurse on duty and I toasted with a glass of water. I went home and in two weeks went on our yearly vacation to North Carolina, where I played golf and visited with friends.

Everything Dr. Bafford told me about what the recovery experience would be like was exactly how it worked. I am a living testimonial to "if it hurts, get it fixed" and with doctors like Dr. Ghazi and Dr. Bafford, you truly are in good hands. The staff of nurses could not have been better, in all aspects of professional medical care. I'm truly a grateful patient.

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