One woman, two doctors, one medical emergency
Lorraine Haack has much to be thankful for. From her husband and two sons to her friends, to the community where she lives in Little Chute to just life in general, Lorraine counts her blessings daily. But perhaps one of the biggest blessings in her life is her health.
On May 1 of 2019, Lorraine woke up with abdominal pain. Since the pain wasn't severe, she proceeded to travel to Madison for an appointment for her son.
However, the pain progressed greatly. By the time she arrived home, she began experiencing chills and was running a fever.
"I said to my husband, 'Something is wrong with me,'" said Lorraine. "I then went to the emergency room, thinking I had a kidney infection."
After a CT scan, Lorraine was informed she had a 15- by 16-centimeter cyst in her pelvic area. She was discharged and the results were sent to Dr. Andrea Schimke, primary care physician at Aurora Health Center in Kaukauna, Wis.
"I was in shock. You think you're going in for a simple thing like a bladder infection. It scared me to think that if it burst, what would happen to me?" Lorraine expressed.
When an ovarian cyst ruptures, it causes a severe inflammatory reaction that is incredibly painful. "More importantly," explained Dr. Schimke, "if it is cancer, all of the malignant cells would spread throughout the entire abdominal cavity."
Dr. Schimke received and reviewed the results before 8 a.m. that morning, and immediately contacted Dr. Peter Johnson, a gynecologic oncologist at Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay, Wis., to organize her care and manage her pain.
No time to delay
"When someone is in pain, they need to be seen now," said Dr. Johnson. "There is physical and emotional pain. Sometimes the emotional pain – the uncertainty, the fear of the unknown – can be worse than any physical pain."
And for Lorraine, the pain was excruciating.
Dr. Johnson discovered the cyst was twisting Lorraine's ovary and would need to have surgery not only to remove the cyst, but also both fallopian tubes and her left ovary.
"The mass was large and twisted around a dying ovary," Dr. Johnson explained. "Thankfully, all went well. And best of all, no cancer. I love giving that news – no cancer!"
In capable hands
"I was so scared, but Dr. Johnson is a very kind soul. He worried about me. It made me feel better that it seemed important to him," said Lorraine. "It made me feel secure that I was with the right doctor."
Though she did not physically see Dr. Schimke, despite being referred for evaluation, Lorraine is grateful that Dr. Schimke recognized the seriousness of the situation and cut out a whole step in order to get Lorraine the help she desperately needed.
"It helps to have exceptional colleagues that will go out of their way for my patients," Dr. Schimke said. "Normally, I would see her and review options, but she needed an expert in gynecologic surgery, so we moved forward as quickly as possible."
After surgery, the Little Chute community and her friends from church and work pitched in to make meals for Lorraine and her family and help her husband around the house. Despite the slight soreness she still has, Lorraine is back to doing everything she did before.
"The doctors, my family, my coworkers and my community all came together," said Lorraine. "Life can be taken from you so quickly. I'm so thankful."