Margaret Remick's favorite ice cream flavor is "plain old vanilla". She laughs as she says it, hearing how uncomplicated it sounds. "I like it nice and simple," she says. "Just like my surgery."
Ice cream could have been one of many culprits that made her gall bladder flair up in May. She was at her granddaughter's softball game when she had muscle spasms and pain in her abdomen.
She left the game, drove home and went to bed. Feeling fine the next day, she went on with her day as if it never happened. A few weeks later though, the pain was back tenfold.
"It felt like a bullet shot through my stomach," she says. She went right to the doctor and had an ultrasound that day. Margaret's daughter who works as a nurse warned her it could be her gall bladder.
That night she looked up information online and began a gall bladder friendly diet. "It was high in fiber with lots of fruits, vegetables and beans," she says. "I had to watch the amount of meat, greasy foods and...ice cream."
The next day the diet seemed to be helping. Still, her doctor called Margaret with the results: Her gall bladder needed to be removed.
While she lives on the east side of Allentown, Margaret has always come to Easton Hospital for more acute medical needs. "I haven't needed surgery before, so I asked a friend for a surgeon's name and she recommended Dr. Dy," she says.
Victor Dy, MD is a robotically-trained general surgeon at Easton Hospital. Margaret called him and got right in. Dr. Dy looked at the ultrasound and agreed her gall bladder needed to come out.
"He then sat down and spent a lot of time with me," she says. "He drew a diagram of what he would do during surgery both with the robot and without the robot. It really made me feel good."
Surgeons and specialists at Easton Hospital have been working with robotic-assisted systems for nearly a year and have completed over 200 cases. Robotic surgery is minimally invasive, using smaller incisions which often lead to quicker recovery times, less blood loss, less pain and fewer scars.
Despite her confidence in Dr. Dy, Margaret almost canceled her surgery. "I was tricking myself into thinking I was ok," she says. "My diet was working and I was afraid of going under during surgery. But I just needed to bite the bullet and do it before that pain came back."
When she entered the Easton Hospital Short Procedure Unit (SPU), she confessed her fear to the staff. That's when the staff poured on the care.
"My operating room nurse sat down and talked with me about all that was going to happen," she says. "The time he took was very reassuring."
When Dr. Dy came in, he showed her the robot. "He is very proud of that robot," she says. "But that was the last thing I remembered."
She woke with a one inch incision in her belly button. Dr. Dy was able to use the robot as hoped. "I had no pain," she says. "I only took pain medicine twice during my recovery."
She did spend the night in the hospital because of an elevated pulse at the end of her procedure. "But my nurse was so calm and helpful," Margaret says. "And when my daughter called wanting all the details, my nurse got on the phone and answered each question."
Margaret was surprised by how good she felt after surgery and how much she could do immediately. "I could use my exercise bike and even take a shower," she says. "I took a week off as recommended, but by mid-week I could have gone back to work...but let's not say that."
Margaret visited Dr. Dy's office that week. Little did he expect Margaret's daughter to come to the visit, let alone her three granddaughters. "Dr Dy got a kick out of that. All of us in there." she says. "But he answered all of my daughter's questions."
Margaret is back to work and cheering at softball games. She even is back to the occasional vanilla ice cream treat. "I'm glad I got this done," she says.
Dr. Dy told her that her gall bladder was infected. "Thank goodness I went through with this simple surgery before something very serious happened."
250 South 21st Street
Easton, PA 18042-3892