By: Jacob Luecke
You couldn’t have asked for a better summer day. It was July 12, and the high was forecast to be in the 80s. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Days like this are a gift in the midst of the sweltering Missouri summer, and Jeff Troyer of Jacksonville knew exactly how he wanted to spend it — fishing with his grandson Tyler at Rothwell Park in Moberly.
“It was something I had always wanted to do,” Jeff says. “To have something for me and him to do together.”
But as Jeff, 63, was getting ready for the fishing trip that morning, he started feeling nauseous. Before long, he was in the bathroom, where he began hemorrhaging blood.
His wife, Vickie, called 911 as Jeff continued to lose blood, going in and out of consciousness.
Jeff had no idea what was happening to him. However, the severity of his situation became clear when the ambulance crew arrived, telling him he needed to be transported to the hospital by helicopter.
“I told them, ‘Just take me straight to Boone,’” Jeff says.
Soon, Jeff was airborne, watching the scenery below as he was flown to Boone Hospital Center.
Upon landing at Boone Hospital, Jeff was transported from the hospital’s rooftop helipad directly to the emergency department. He continued to lose blood.
Doctors soon discovered Jeff had an ulcer near the bottom of his stomach, in close proximity to an artery. It was a life-threatening situation.
In Boone Hospital’s GI Lab, gastroenterology specialists Donald Gerhardt, MD, and Matthew Struttmann, MD, repaired Jeff’s ulcer.
Jeff ended up spending four days in Boone Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. He says he was amazed by the compassion shown by the hospital’s caregivers. While everyone was working to heal his body, he says they also cared for him personally, too.
Hospitalist Martha Herring, MD, who cared for Jeff during his time at Boone Hospital, says displaying compassion is an important part of the service provided by Boone Hospital.
“More often than not, we are meeting patients on one of the worst days of their lives,” she says. “We must treat the physical emergency, but we also must address their fears. Along with answers to their questions, we must provide compassion and reassurance as well.”
Looking back on the experience, Jeff is reluctant to single out specific hospital staff members above the rest because he was impressed by so many of the people who cared for him.
However, he recalls days when his nurse would simply spend time by his side to help support him during a difficult time.
“A couple of days I was having really bad days, and she came in and said, ‘Jeff, do you just want to talk?’” Jeff says. “That helped just get me through things.”
Jeff was also impressed by his physicians, intensivist Ricardo Hernandez, MD, and Dr. Herring.
“They were exceptionally good doctors,” Jeff says.
Once Jeff was well enough to move out of the Intensive Care Unit, more of his extended family members could come to Boone Hospital to visit and wish him well. Jeff says the Boone Hospital staff showed his family the same compassion they showed to him.
“They made my family feel very comfortable and kept everybody in the loop,” he says.
Nearly a week after his surprise helicopter ride to Boone Hospital — “I hope it’s my last time,” Jeff says — he was discharged from the hospital and traveled back home to Jacksonville.
Jeff and his doctors continued to monitor his condition through the summer, making sure his body was replenishing all the blood he lost during his medical emergency.
As he continues to recover, Jeff says he has a much better outlook on life. He cherishes the time he spends with his family, including his three grandchildren. He is thankful for the support shown to him by his friends and neighbors and he also thanks the staff and physicians who helped during his recovery at Boone Hospital.
As for the fishing trip, Jeff and Tyler finally had their special day together on August 24 at Rothwell Park Lake. While the fish weren’t biting, it didn’t dampen Jeff’s enthusiasm to share this hobby with one of his grandchildren.
“It was something great to look forward to after going through what I did,” he says.