December 2, 2009, the day that changed my life forever. The day that I didn’t become just another high school student playing on the varsity basketball team. My life quickly became filled with hospital stays, emergency room visits, and trips to the operating room. So many of my days were spent struggling to do everyday activities and begging each and every physician I came into contact with to find me an answer, to find me a solution. I was turned away by so many hospitals and physicians because of my age, my case being too complicated, my case didn’t clearly identify with their specialty, and the list of excuses went on and on. It is hard enough to be sick and not know what is making you sick, but what makes it even more difficult is the inability to find someone to fight for you and to stand by you as you work to find a solution.
However, all of these failed attempts led to the person and place that gave me my life back. Dr. Ben Nwomeh, a general surgeon at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and I first met shortly before my first surgery in 2010. I vividly remember the first time we met in the outpatient clinic at Nationwide Children’s Hospital because he took my hand, looked me in the eyes and assured me that we would find a solution and return me to my healthy, energetic self. I trusted him with my life and that is one decision I will never regret making.
Shortly after my second surgery with Dr. Nwomeh, I became chronically ill; yet, again. My case was placed back in the hands of the G.I. team, but Dr. Nwomeh never left my side. He checked on me daily, monitored the medication I was prescribed, and also just checked on my morale and overall well being. In 2013, I finally had my last surgery, a Cholecystectomy, with Dr. Nwomeh. Dr. Nwomeh and Nationwide Children’s Hospital saved my life. I went from losing the ability to walk on my own without support, the inability to eat, and the inability to attend school like a regular student and now; well, I am getting ready to graduate from The Ohio State University, I have a wonderful job at Apple, and I am starting my own nonprofit. My illness forced me to leave the game of basketball, but this past August I rode 100 miles, pain-free, in Pelotonia. Dr. Nwomeh gave me back my life and for that, I am forever thankful.
At Nationwide Children’s you will always be treated like family, be treated by the most innovative minds in medicine, and you will always have a physician like Dr. Nwomeh taking the time to fight alongside with you throughout your entire journey. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.