It was supposed to be a “routine” hysterectomy – an operation recommended by her doctor to alleviate ongoing pelvic pain.
By all accounts, Corrie Albright’s surgery went as expected, however in the nearly two years since, the Woodville woman has endured a nightmarish litany of complications and surgeries that have baffled doctors and left her debilitated, malnourished and fighting to survive.
Albright, 44, born and raised in the Woodville/Genoa area, underwent the hysterectomy surgery in July 2011. “I was having a lot of pelvic pain – a complication of an ablation procedure I had had about five years before that. I was looking forward to not having to take the pain meds all the time.
Corrie Albright, with sons Aaron and Marcus.
“But even with the pain, I was active – I took care of my mom who had Parkinson’s, I had a family, worked out five days a week,” she said.
“I woke up from the surgery in a lot of pain – more than I would have expected – and within a day or two, I was having nausea, vomiting and constipation,” she recalled.
Doctors speculated the symptoms were a side effect from anesthesia or pain meds after the surgery and would go away. They encouraged Corrie to be patient, but the symptoms not only continued, new ones emerged. “I lost 55 pounds in three months,” Corrie said. “My primary care physician said I was malnourished – so much so, I ended up in the hospital. They told me my organs were two weeks away from shutting down.”
Doctors ordered intravenous feeding, and ran tests that revealed gastric and intestinal paresis – paralysis of the digestive system. They suggested Corrie go to the Cleveland Clinic for further testing and possibly a gastric pacemaker, which would help move the food through the digestive system.
In Cleveland, doctors ran tests and said the gastric paresis wasn’t severe enough to warrant a gastric pacemaker, so they put in a feeding tube in her abdomen to boost Corrie’s nutrition.
The tube feedings helped but nausea and vomiting continued and her blood levels were still not at optimum levels. In March, she had to be admitted to the hospital, where doctors discovered gallstones, which required surgery.
In June 2012, Corrie was still losing weight, so doctors implanted a Hickman catheter to deliver IV feeding in addition to the tube feeding.
Meanwhile doctors remained baffled about why Corrie was experiencing her symptoms. “Doctors said they had never seen anything like this before. And they didn’t know what to do.”
Frustrated and determined to find out what was going on, Corrie did some reading and Internet research, which led her to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota in January of this year, “The doctor felt I had some sort of nerve damage or nerve interruption in the pelvic floor and the autonomic nerve system,” she said. “The problem is, there aren’t any tests yet to diagnose the autonomic nervous system.” While there, Corrie underwent biofeedback therapy to try to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
Mayo Clinic doctors also suggested she undergo the ileostomy – a surgery in which an opening is created bringing the end or loop of small intestine (the ileum) out onto the surface of the skin.
“When I eat something, it just sits – it goes nowhere,” she said. “My stomach doesn’t accommodate food – whenever it gets food, it’s like a trampoline – it gets bounced back out.
“But I can swallow. They’re hoping the ileostomy will allow me to eat and drink a little bit, and at least get some calories the normal way,” Corrie said.
“The doctors tell me that it’s important to try to keep eating – basically, if I don’t use it, I’ll lose it, referring to my digestive system maybe one day, it’ll just work – that it could take three to five years. They just don’t know.” she said.
“But I don’t have any appetite and the vomiting is horrible.”
Corrie faces other challenges as well. The combination of the IV feedings and malnutrition have caused calcifications in her brain, severe osteoporosis in her hips requiring daily injections and blood pressure issues.
She also has to spend some of her precious energy dealing with insurance claims and doctor bills. Though insurance has covered some of her care, exorbitant medical bills have all but exhausted the family’s resources.
To help alleviate some of the financial worries, a spaghetti dinner fundraiser June 7 from 5-8:30 p.m. at Woodville United Methodist Church, 201 W. First St., Woodville.
The donation is $7 for adults and $4 for children 10 and under.
The dinner will include homemade spaghetti with all the fixings. There will be a silent auction. Tickets are available by calling the church office at 419-849-2400.
Donations may also made in Corrie’s name at any Huntington Bank branch.