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Judy’s Gallbladder Story

May 28, 2019

Judy has family and plenty of activities in the Indio area. What she didn’t have was local medical care.

For most of the year, Judy Sandstrom lives in Spokane Valley, Washington. But like many people who make their way south during the winter months, Judy also spends time in the warmth of the Coachella Valley. Her sister and brother-in-law have a home here.

At a time when she most needed it, JFK Memorial Hospital was there to help.

Early one morning during one of Judy’s visits, her sister heard her moaning and crying in her sleep. She rushed in and found Judy confused and shivering violently — clearly in shock. Although Judy didn’t seem to have any pain, her brother-in-law called 911 and directed the ambulance to JFK.

In the emergency room, JFK’s staff got to work — ordering blood tests to check for any sign of infection or inflammation. Judy also had an ultrasound and an MRI. The images showed physicians what the problem was: a ruptured gallbladder. By that evening, Judy was in surgery.

It was a rapid and disorienting series of events for Judy, who says she had never before stayed in a hospital. But she was glad to undergo minimally invasive surgery. In a laparoscopic, or “keyhole,” procedure, her gallbladder was removed with the help of a tiny camera and only three small incisions. She stayed at JFK for three days because of the rupture, and then was sent home with a round of antibiotics.

Unfortunately, the infection spread by the ruptured organ was severe and caused an abscess. Judy returned to JFK and another surgical procedure, although surgeons were able to take advantage of the same incisions they had made earlier. She has made a complete recovery.

Throughout her ordeal, Judy says, the hospital staff was quick to put her at ease and explain what was going to happen. 

“If you have to go to a hospital, that’s the place to go,” Judy says of JFK. And just in case she wished her emergency had happened at home in Washington, her surgeon had a surprise for her.

Underneath his scrubs, he wore a Seattle Seahawks jersey.