Elwood Woman Goes From Patient to Caregiver at Silver Cross Hospital
On her 17th birthday, what should have been a day of celebration and fun, Autumn Lawson of Elwood woke up to severe stomach pain. In the weeks following, she began losing weight rapidly, and the stomach pain persisted.
She made appointments with her doctor, who recommended a colonoscopy with Dr. Reza Gamagami and appointments with other specialists to determine what was making her so sick. Eventually, doctors gave her a diagnosis: Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract and belongs to a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel diseases, or IBD.
“The disease can occur at any age, but Crohn’s disease is most often diagnosed in adolescents and adults between the ages of 20 and 30,” Dr. Gamagami explained. “Treatment for Crohn’s can include the use of medication, alterations in diet and nutrition, and sometimes surgical procedures to repair or remove affected portions of the GI tract.”
Over the next three years, Autumn tried several different medicines to control the symptoms of Crohn’s, but when nothing seemed to help, her only other option was surgery.
But Autumn had some very specific requirements. She wanted to have surgery close to home, and she wanted as little scarring as possible. Once again, Autumn chose Dr. Gamagami. Not only was he located conveniently close to home, he was personally recommended by her dad, who had also been a patient of Dr. Gamagami’s.
Speedy Recovery after Surgery
With nervous yet excited anticipation that she’d finally get relief, Autumn had a small bowel resection using the minimally invasive da Vinci robot at the Midwest Institute for Robotic Surgery at Silver Cross Hospital in January of 2017. The results astounded Autumn.
“I woke up from the surgery and felt better instantly,” she explained. “My first meal after surgery was an omelet and hash browns. This was such a big deal because eating anything prior to my surgery resulted in instant pain.”
Autumn spent only one night at the hospital and returned to school a week and a half after the surgery. And just as she had hoped, her tiny scars were barely visible.
Trading her Hospital Gown for Surgical Scrubs
After her life-changing and highly successful surgery, Autumn set her sights on a career in the medical field.
“Being a patient for so long and learning as much as I did to deal with my own illness, I wanted to be someone who could help others and make them feel better,” she added.
Autumn is currently a surgical technician at Silver Cross Hospital and occasionally works side-by-side with Dr. Gamagami, who is now her mentor.
“He’s so happy and excited for me that I’ve been able to finally have relief from all the pain, but also now to be doing what I love and help others. I can go to him with any questions I have.” Autumn, who’s an avid racecar driver, says Dr. Gamagami’s nickname for her is “Speed Racer.”
Looking back, Autumn is happy with her decision. “The thought of surgery was very scary, but I’m so glad that I did it,” she said.
Best of all, she found a healthcare career she loves!
For more information about robotic surgery at Silver Cross Hospital, visit www.midwestroboticsurgery.org