Okay, I know this headline has double meaning when we are talking about ulcerative colitis where inflammation plagues the colon. In this case I am not talking about medical exams, I am talking about the stories of two women, each plagued by real problems from colitis for years, who are now doing great. It’s not that they took the same treatment approach. They didn’t. But in both cases, with leading-edge medicine, it’s working out quite well and they are leading full lives.

First there’s Hillary Patton of Carlsbad, California, a guest on one of our upcoming programs with UC San Diego Medical Center and my new best friend, head of surgery Dr. Mark Talamini . Hillary had significant troubles because of the colitis which developed at age 21. After that she had multiple blockages and hospitalizations. She would get fatigued and dehydrated. An active woman, and quite athletic, she was determined to live better. She had the typical “j-pouch” surgery to remove a diseased part of her colon and then, after a time had the healthy parts reconnected.

But over time there were complications. It was thought to be from adhesions inside her abdomen, the body trying to heal but, not uncommonly, causing problems as it does by tightening around parts of the intestines. In the worst case there could be “strangulation” of the colon, an emergency condition and potentially deadly.

Hillary knew yet another surgery might be needed. Given that she was limited in her activities and worried about continuing complications, she started researching surgeons who could help. Fortunately for her, nearby was the Center for the Future of Surgery, co-led by Dr. Talamini. Using a minimally invasive approach and a laparoscope he was able to spot the problem. Surprisingly, not adhesions, but rather a serious narrowing of the colon from healing around a staple used in an earlier surgery.

Hillary was quickly out of the hospital and soon doing the pilates classes she loves and feeling great. Had she had the open surgery others had recommended she would have been hospitalized for much longer, taken much longer to recover and been left with a sizable scar.

Progress driven by a Powerful Patient connecting with the right physician and the best technology.

Then, last night, at a local community picnic, I chatted with the wife of a new neighbor. Let’s call her “Sally.” She too has colitis and as the condition of her colon deteriorated it was recommended she have the same J-Pouch surgery Hillary did. But there was one more thing to try first – a clinical trial with a new biologic drug, already approved for rheumatoid arthritis, to see if it could help with another auto-immune condition, ulcerative colitis. The woman started the trial (she later found out she was just patient #2, and she’s proud of that), first on the east coast. Her husband took a new job near Seattle so she moved and her trial participation moved with her. She resumed with a community gastroenterologist. Her every two week shots, given by her husband, of the drug Humira, continued. The new doctor did an exam with a scope. Sally, an experienced patient who had had similar exams many times, watched on the video screen. The image was of a healthy colon. She thought it was a joke. Video of someone else’s colon playing back from a previous exam. No it was hers. The drug, still in trials, was working miracles for Sally. As she told me last night she was beaming. And, then she said, “When I asked the gastroenterologist where that healthy image was coming from. He simply said, ‘That’s you!” I was so amazed and when I looked back at him there were tears in his eyes.”

Two colitis stories, two different, new approaches, two positive results, two women living fuller lives. Hillary went the extra mile to seek the best care. Sally had the courage to enroll in a clinical trial. Both are very glad they stepped up. And they have a lesson for us all.

Wishing you and your family the best of health!

Andrew