Luckily, her colleagues were able to figure out she was ill, and she was sent via ambulance to Lompoc Valley Medical Center: Hospital. It was there she was put in the care of Dr. David Lemmel, MD, and nurse Melissa Sessions, RN.
“He immediately came into the room and was worried because I was shaking so bad and was pure white,” Ruth recalls. “He got me calmed down. He told me to breathe and that I was in a safe place. He told me they were going to do everything they could to help me.”
She underwent blood tests and a CT scan to determine what had caused her illness. Dr. Lemmel connected with gastroenterologist Dr. Rahim Raoufi, MD— something Ruth thought was exceedingly professional. “He kept coming in and checking on me,” Ruth says. “He was holding my hand. He could tell I was worried and scared.”
What she disclosed to Dr. Lemmel was the root of her fear — her beloved husband, Kenny, had died unexpectedly Sept. 22, 2015, and she had been the one to discover him in deceased in a bathroom. It was then that Dr. Lemmel told Ruth that he was not sure how much longer she could have survived if she had not been found in that bathroom – she might have met the same fate as her husband.
Eventually, tests ruled out cancer and colitis. However, Dr. Lemmel referred her to Dr. Raoufi for her first colonoscopy at the age of 62.
When she arrived for her procedure, she was greeted by Blue Coat volunteer Andy Staiano. She appreciated his kindness, especially since there was a delay in her start time. “You do not always get that personal touch when you are coming in for a drastic procedure,” she says. Soon after that, she was taken to the pre-op area by OR Nursing Assistant Nancy Hernandez. “She was amazing,” Ruth says. “She gets a bazillion kudos.” Dr. Raoufi shook her hand and told her she would be OK.
“He said, ‘You’re in good hands,’” she says. “He knew from the office visit that this is not where I wanted to be. His whole team was amazing.”
She especially signaled out the care of Operating Room Registered Nurses Patti Field and Jennifer Escano as well as Endoscopy Technician Samantha Vang and Registered Nurse Breanne Hall. Her eventual diagnosis was diverticulitis. She took to her social media page to thank LVMC and those who helped her.
“It was a personal feel you do not expect,” Ruth says. “Everybody there was beyond awesome. I did not expect it.”
In the end, Volunteer Andy pushed her wheelchair to the exit. He told her to go home and take it easy. “He said, ‘Hopefully we will not see you anytime soon,’” Ruth said. “He said to (her daughter) Stephanie, ‘If your mom needs anything, we’re always here.’”
In the weeks since, Ruth has been careful about her diet, so as not to have a relapse.
“I'm just grateful I was put in the right hands at the right time and they were able to give me some more years,” Ruth said.
This Patient Success Story was written with the approval and consent of the patient and their family.