Robotic Surgery Patient Stories

Back to Travel - Dr. Thomalla's Story

J. Vincent Thomalla wasn’t about to let a small tumor on his kidney prevent him from going duck hunting in Argentina.

After not feeling well in March of 2010, Thomalla, a urologist with Marshfield Clinic, went to see his physician, who found the tumor. He was given two choices: wait to see if it grew, or have it removed. He chose the latter, and opted for a Da Vinci robotic surgical procedure called a partial nephrectomy, that was performed in May. He chose the procedure because of the enhanced recovery time and minimal scaring.

He spent two nights in Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital, and after three weeks, was able to enjoy his hobbies of walking, bird hunting, sightseeing and the culinary arts. And in July, he made that trip to Argentina.


Family. Medicine. - Beth's Story

Beth Tremel sits down to a family dinner, ready to enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal. She looks around the table at her family and the smiles on their faces match her own. Family has always been important to Beth, and with the help of robotic surgery, she didn’t have to spend very much time away from them.

Beth recalls the discomfort she had on her right side leading up to her gallbladder diagnosis. After doing some research, Beth found Dr. Kenneth Bruder at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton and went in for a consultation. An ultrasound revealed sludge in her gallbladder and Dr. Bruder walked her through a number of options, which included robotic surgery.

Once her surgery was complete, Beth was glad she had chosen the robotic option. She says her pain was minimal and the only sign of surgery was a small gauze pad on her belly button. In fact, in a couple days, Beth says she was back to work again.

Today as Beth sits with her family, she is able to truly appreciate the quick recovery and peace of mind robotic surgery offered. For her, it wasn’t just a matter of getting back into the swing of things, it was getting back to the ones she loves.


The professor, the doctor and the robot. - Jody's Story

Jody Roy stands at the front of her classroom, ready to begin today’s lecture. She has a great group this semester, and they’re as engaged as ever. Jody works hard at not missing class time with her students, and her recent robotic surgery made the work a little easier.

In the years leading up to her hysterectomy, Jody says she suffered from pain, exhaustion, and even bleeding. Her struggles finally got so bad, she says she was exhausted 24 hours a day, barely being able to work.

After consulting with Dr. Jeremy Bell at Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh, Jody was given a number of options, one of which was a robotically-assisted hysterectomy. Based on all the information she was given including recovery time and reduced pain, she says the robotic option was an easy choice.

According to Jody, her surgery went extremely well, and she was able to get up and walk around almost immediately afterward. She was also surprised and pleased with how little pain medication she needed, which in her words is “just shy of a miracle.”

Today in her classroom, Jody is back to doing what she does best – teaching her students. She has always been an advocate for her students, working to make sure they achieve everything they are capable of; and that’s one thing Dr. Bell and his staff know a little something about.


Two wheels for life. - Rick's Story

Rick Mlodzik sits on his motorcycle, helmet at his side, ready for another road trip. He fires the engine and it sounds great. It feels good to be headed back on the road, especially since Rick has overcome cancer.

Rick had dealt with a lot of cancer in his life, including his father, his daughter, and most recently his wife. So when Rick was told he had prostate cancer, echoes of the past hit him head-on.

Fortunately Rick was able to consult with Dr. Steve Baughman, an Affinity Medical Group urologist and experienced robotic surgeon at Mercy Medical Center. Dr. Baughman recommended da Vinci robotic surgery, explaining the quick recovery benefits due to its minimal invasiveness.

There was very little hesitation from Rick, who wanted to be able to recover in time to see his daughter’s graduation. Rick says the decision was pretty easy, given his trust level with Dr. Baughman and the track record of robotic surgery. The choice proved to be the right one for Rick as he was feeling nearly back to normal in a matter of two weeks.

And now with surgery behind him, Rick is able to look at his experience with a little more perspective. Getting back on his bike again is more than just a welcome distraction, it’s a symbol of a life regained. Rick is back to what he loves and ready for the many roads ahead.


Beautiful Lawn Ornaments - Shelly's Story

It’s not often that a surgical patient describes her procedure as “absolutely wonderful.” But that’s just what Shelly Stecker says about her Da Vinci Robotic hysterectomy, which, she said, was far less invasive and resulted in little or no scarring at the incision points.

Shelly was diagnosed with ovarian cysts in July of 2010 and it was given the option of less invasive robotic surgery. She had the surgery July 9 and was discharged July 10. Four days later, at 3 a.m., she helped “decorate” a friend’s lawn with pink flamingos. Two weeks after that, she resumed her normal activities including camping, swimming and hiking. Four weeks after that, she went back to work, with her only limitations being lifting too much weight and overexerting.

Needless to say, she’s a believer.


Getting Back to Life - Paul's Story


Paul Metz, of Spencer, is an active guy; he hikes, camps, snowshoes and bikes. He’s also a 25-year volunteer EMT and firefighter with the village of Spencer Fire Department. So when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009, he was obviously concerned about how things would turn out and if he would be able to get back to his normal life.

He was given the option of traditional surgery, or the less invasive da Vinci robotic surgery. After talking to his brother, who had the traditional prostate cancer surgery, Paul opted for the latter. He was glad he did. Within five weeks, he was able to resume full physical activity (although bike riding took a bit longer). And his fellow EMTs and firefighters were happy to have him back, good as new.



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