Michael S From the Other Side of the Gurney

“Everyone worked tirelessly to figure out what was wrong with me and helped me get better and back home to my family as quickly as possible.

Emergency responder experiences his own health emergency.

As a police officer and certified emergency medical technician, Somerville resident Michael Stitley, 41, has seen his share of crises. But at 4:30 a.m. on Mother’s Day this year, Stitley was the one experiencing the emergency. “I woke up suddenly with chest pain and was sick to my stomach,” he recalls. “I was certain I was having a heart attack.”

He was whisked to the Emergency Department (ED) at Somerset Medical Center. “As soon as I said I was having chest pain, a nurse came out with a wheelchair and brought me back to start doing a workup,” Stitley, a father of seven, says. While in the ED, internal medicine physician Sadia Ahmed, MD, evaluated Stitley.

All the tests for ticker trouble came back negative — Stitley’s heart was fine. What, then, was causing his chest pain and stomach symptoms? An abdominal CT scan revealed inflammation of the pancreas and gallbladder due to gallstones, painful crystal-like formations. Patients with this condition may experience pain in the belly, ranging from dull to severe. It can also cause nausea, vomiting and fever.

Small Incisions, Big Benefits

Stitley was admitted to the hospital that day. He met with general surgeon Thangamani Seenivasan, MD, who informed him that his gallbladder would need to be removed as soon as possible to prevent his symptoms from worsening.

“With every surgery, we try to offer patients the least invasive option available,” Dr. Seenivasan says. “Michael was a candidate for laparoscopic surgery, which involves making four tiny incisions in the abdomen and using special instruments to remove the gallbladder through the cuts.”

Getting Patients Back on Their Feet, Fast

Compared with traditional open surgery, laparoscopic surgery often means less pain, less blood loss, lower risk for complications and a quicker return to work and everyday activities. In fact, Stitley was walking within two hours of leaving the operating room. He went home the day after his surgery.

“I’ve been an emergency responder for 26 years and am still so impressed with how quickly I was treated,” Stitley says. “Everyone worked tirelessly to figure out what was wrong with me and helped me get better and back home to my family as quickly as possible.”

View patient testimonials and videos of common surgical procedures, meet Somerset Medical Center surgeons and get answers to frequently asked questions at somersetmedicalcenter.com/surgery. For a physician referral, call 800-443-4605. A live operator is ready to take your call any time, day or night. Multiple languages spoken.