Ruth Cook

Ruth Cook

Even in my 90s I've been very active and eaten healthy foods. But my stomach started to bother me in 2008, and doctors told me I had ulcerative colitis. They said not to worry – it would take three weeks and I'd be fine. Well, three weeks came and went and I wasn't fine. They tried this, that and the other thing and nothing seemed to work. 

I lost 100 pounds. I live in a retirement community, and I couldn't go downstairs to dinner with my friends because I didn't know when the colitis would say hello to me. There were so many things I couldn't eat, like fresh fruits and vegetables, which I love. Finally, my son insisted that I go to OHSU.

I worked with Dr. Lee and a group of gastrointestinal physicians. They tried everything under the sun and eventually decided on surgery. I was 92 then, and a colostomy might have set me back, so Dr. Herzig recommended an ileostomy.

In April 2012 I had the ileostomy, and when I came out of the anesthetic it didn't even feel like I'd had surgery. And I have just been going ahead ever since. I immediately got my energy back. I got up and around. I was able to go to dinner with friends again.

Later, I started getting pains in my knee, and they got worse and worse. One morning I got up and I couldn't even put my weight down – it just hurt terribly – so I went to the local hospital. They said it was arthritis and the only solution was to not to do more walking than was necessary. Well, I'm active and I don't want to stop moving just because I'm in my 90s. So, once again, my son called OHSU.

My doctors at OHSU saw that, in addition to arthritis, there was some fluid in my knee. They took the fluid out, and my knee has been like new ever since. Now I'm swimming three days a week and using my walker.

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