Cliffwood Beach Resident Urges Men to Get Care They Need
October 20, 2022
When Joe Botticelli couldn’t sit or stand normally because of a severe bowel blockage, he knew it was time to have the surgery he’d postponed. This wasn’t his first blockage, and he needed it to be his last.
Joe, 52, from Cliffwood Beach, New Jersey, says he’d resisted in part because of anxiety. His uncle had died years earlier from complications of the type of surgery Joe needed.
“Blockages had been bothering me for years, but this was a real doozy,” Joe says. “I felt like the alien ‘ET’ was living inside me, and I decided, ‘Now I really am going to the hospital.’”
That hospital was Bayshore Medical Center at the newly constructed Dr. Robert H. Harris Emergency Care Center, where the husband and father of five had gone previously for his chronic gastrointestinal problems.
Robotic surgeon Hung Nguyen, M.D., explains that Joe had developed multiple abdominal hernias as a result of previous treatment for ruptured diverticulitis—inflamed or infected “pouches” in the intestines. Joe, who had a family history of diverticulitis, had seen Dr. Nguyen a few years ago to discuss his hernia surgery before it became urgent, but he just wasn’t ready.
“After Dr. Nguyen went over everything with me then, I knew this was the best move, but I just hadn’t decided when,” Joe says.
In 2003, Joe’s condition required an emergency colon resection surgery—performed by another surgeon—to remove part of his colon and temporarily attach the remaining colon on the outside of his body. The surgeon also constructed a hole, or stoma, in the abdominal wall so waste could be removed via a colostomy bag. Four months later, Joe had surgery to reattach his bowels. But as years passed, he developed hernias at the former sites of those procedures.
Joe’s intestines “pushed out” as a hernia near that stoma, causing a blockage or bowel obstruction that necessitated the most recent surgery.
Simplifying Complex Surgery
It turned out that Joe had several more hernias along a scar in the middle of his abdomen and a scar on the side of his abdomen, Dr. Nguyen says.
“A sophisticated robotic surgery allowed me to operate between the layers of Joe’s abdominal wall, so a piece of mesh could be placed within that wall instead of inside the abdominal cavity,” says Dr. Nguyen. “Think of the abdominal wall as a book and the pages as layers. We slip mesh between those pages, close all the holes and reinforce them with more mesh. This reduces risks that can occur because of placing the mesh inside the abdominal cavity, and it's almost impossible to do this type of procedure with traditional laparoscopic surgery.”
The four-hour procedure entailed six tiny incisions, each one-quarter inch in length, through which Dr. Nguyen strategically inserted mesh. He says hernias can be very difficult to repair simply by suturing or stitching holes together. “Mesh needs to become a permanent part of the body by ‘scarring’ in,” he says.
Don’t Put off Good Health
Joe reflects on his journey and cautions other older men whom he says “tend not to go to the doctor.” “Don’t put anything off, and if there’s a problem, get it looked at right away,” he says.
The Bayshore team relieved his fears. “The staff can make or break a hospital experience. Ever since I walked into the hospital that night until I was discharged, everything was beautiful, and surgery went so smoothly,” he says.
Dr. Nguyen has seen Joe in the office twice since his procedure, and Joe is progressing well.
Always up for a spirited walk with his wife, Alicia, on his favorite beach at Belmar, Joe says: “I’m not fully where I want to be with my overall health, but having the surgery has helped me so much.”
Next Steps & Resources:
- Meet our sources: Hung Nguyen, M.D.
- To make an appointment with Dr. Nguyen or a surgeon near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website.
- Take a look inside the new Dr. Robert H. Harris Emergency Care Center
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.