Thankful for a doctor

Published 9:46 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Trina Artis is thankful for health this Thanksgiving after she received surgery from Suffolk resident, Dr. L.D. Britt. From left are Dr. Bhairav Shah, Britt, Artis and medical assistant Jennifer Johnson.

If anyone asks her what she’s thankful for today, Trina Artis knows just what to say.

“I consider it a blessing every day I can stand on my feet,” Artis said. “Every day to me is a day of thanksgiving.”

Artis is just recovering from a three-year ordeal that started on June 26, 2008, when she was having surgery to repair a hernia. The surgeon accidentally nicked her small intestine during the procedure.

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Artis was told she’d have to live with a colostomy bag.

“He told me, ‘People walk around with a colostomy bag the rest of their lives,’” she recalled this week. “I told him, ‘I’m not people.’”

The small cut set off a chain of events that landed her in hospitals and nursing homes for months at a time. At one point, she couldn’t stand up and had lost the use of her arms. She suffered infections in intensive care units and developed high blood pressure, a problem she had never had before. At one point, she heard a doctor say, “We’re losing her.”

“I was determined I was going to walk again,” she said. “I had been through enough.”

Artis called doctor after doctor, begging them to fix her small intestine so she could have her life back.

“They told me most doctors don’t like to go behind another doctor,” Artis said. “None of the doctors would take my case.”

However, she finally talked to one who agreed to take on the challenge — Suffolk’s own Dr. L.D. Britt.

Britt, a Suffolk native and a professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School, agreed to help Artis.

“I felt she needed to have an intervention,” Britt said this week. “I just feel if there’s a chance, you need to take the chance.”

Artis said Britt was able to repair her problem in one surgery and get her on the road to recovery.

“He got me to where I am, along with God,” she said of Britt. “I thank the Lord that Dr. Britt took my case. He didn’t have to.”

After being sick for so long, Artis said, she is thankful this Thanksgiving that she has been given a new lease on life.

For his part, Britt said, he is thankful for many things, including his talent for helping people.

“I’ve been given a talent, and I try not to forget that,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate, and I feel like I need to pay that debt.”

Britt added that Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday, because there’s so much for him, and his patients, to be thankful for.

“The majority of the world population lives on less than $2 a day,” he said. “Even somebody living on minimum wage is a high percentage compared to most of the world. [On Thanksgiving], the only thing you splurge on is a good meal. There’s very little commercialization, and you just reflect on being blessed.”

There’s certainly plenty of chance for Artis to reflect this holiday.

“I tell people not to give up,” she said. “I just thank the Lord for it every day.”