Grateful Patient Story: Maureen O’Donnell at Charlton Memorial

A diagnosis of a Struvite stone in her left kidney led Maureen to Charlton Memorial Hospital where she was treated by an attentive and supportive surgical team, as well as a kind and responsive post-surgical crew.

In 2018, my life was upended by the diagnosis and treatment of a Struvite stone in my left kidney. It was quite large and had already rendered the organ much less than optimally functional. It also was the source of constant, systemic infection. I began a course of low-dose antibiotics that lasted for nearly four years. 

Early on, the stone was removed to the degree that it could be, and I hobbled along as the damaged kidney’s function precipitously declined. I suffered from low energy and nausea on nearly a daily basis. I wanted so much to feel better — but on most days, I just didn’t. 

Finally, in the fall of 2021, the recalcitrant kidney’s function had plummeted to the point that any benefits it provided were outweighed by the problems it was causing. It was time to have it removed — which was both a relief and a source of great anxiety. 

As it turns out, I needn’t have worried. On February 23, I was admitted to Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, where I was fortunate enough to find a most attentive and supportive surgical team, as well as a kind and responsive post-surgical care crew. 

I’m home now and recovering rapidly. Feelings of deep gratitude and appreciation rise as I ponder the miracle of the surgery, which is making me well. I am in awe of Dr. Dennis LaRock’s knowledge and skill, but I also marvel at his kindness and warmth — so reassuring. The same is true of Dr. Oluwapelumi Osibanjo, who provided anesthesia. Her manner prior to the surgery calmed me and built my confidence. 

Once in my room post-surgery, staff members were not only incredibly responsive, but to a person proactively encouraged my recovery at every turn. Without exception, all attended to my needs with good cheer and grace.

Sandy C. accompanied me on my first outing — a walk that covered the entire surgical recovery floor. She took the time to point out the neighborhood that surrounds the hospital, which on that late afternoon, shone like a gem and looked like something out of a wonderful fairy tale, thanks to recently fallen snow. Sandy told me that she loved the hospital’s adjacent landscape of triple-deckers and grand old homes — her enthusiasm made me see it all through new eyes, and I loved It, too! 

Food & Nutrition Services staff members were exceptionally tender — an unexpected and delightful bonus. Julian P. brought me meal trays while singing and stopped to talk to me very briefly about his own life journey. He brought a personal touch, which I cherished. Anne C. who brought me my “all clear liquid” trays knew I wasn’t thrilled as the fourth day of such fare dawned. She called me “sweet pea” and noticed that, while I was on a liquid diet, I was especially happy when she brought me a cup of tea. She made a point of bringing me an extra-large tea from then on. So thoughtful and lovely. 

Elizabeth F. was a nurse who exuded poise and efficiency, quelling anxiety and inspiring healing rest. 

Johanna and Olivia gently helped me with hygiene, offering me opportunities to once again feel half-human and alive. Every single other nurse, nurse’s assistant, orderly, and physician’s assistant brought kindness and good cheer to their daily rounds. 

One favorite was the Physician’s Assistant who reassured me, as I readied to go home, that I would be fine. I could do most anything but lift heavy objects — and/or donate a kidney! It took me a moment to grasp his meaning — but, of course, I only have one kidney left and can’t ever agree to let it go! It was a moment of levity that reduced the stress I was feeling about leaving the cocoon of the hospital. 

I am so grateful to this entire assembly of present-day, real-life “saints” — the skilled and dedicated surgical team and the skilled and dedicated after-care team who tended to me at Charlton Memorial. I will ever and always remain deeply grateful to each and every one, who cared for me so artfully and with such grace, for giving me a brand-new lease on life at the age of 72! 

The Southcoast Health Grateful Patient program enables patients to recognize a Southcoast employee, regardless of department or role, who made a positive impact on them while receiving care. Our thanks to Maureen for helping us launch this new series of stories!

Employees recognized by grateful patients will be acknowledged as Southcoast Stars and receive a star pin to represent a patient’s appreciation for the personal care they received.

To recognize a Southcoast Employee who made a lasting impact on you and the care you received, please visit The Grateful Patient – Southcoast Health.