Gratitude Stories – Hillary
For about a week in January of 2022, Hillary Dutton was experiencing what she described as “subtle abdominal discomfort” on her lower right side. Even though the pain grew gradually in intensity, Hillary said it never got excruciating or unbearable for her. Still, at the encouragement of friends, she decided to visit the ED at Newport Hospital just to be on the safe side.
As it turned out, that decision may have saved her life.
Blood tests and CT scans at Newport Hospital revealed that the 31-year-old graphic designer from Jamestown had a ruptured appendix—a potentially fatal condition if not treated swiftly, because it can lead to widespread infections and sepsis.
Hillary needed surgery … and she needed it right away. Within hours, James D. Valente, MD, Newport Hospital’s Chair of Surgery, was performing an emergency appendectomy on her.
After the complex and successful procedure Hillary was moved to a private room where she was monitored 24/7 by a team of nurses who administered antibiotics, recorded her vitals, and managed several temperature spikes and fevers. In total, Hillary spent five days inpatient before being discharged and going home.
“I had complete confidence in my Newport Hospital care team. They were all very kind, communicative, and reassuring. And because of them, I always felt like I was going to be ok. To be in a positive environment like that when you are going through something so stressful … well, that means everything.”
— Hillary Dutton, patient
Since her health scare, Hillary says she’s become somewhat of an advocate for appendix care, alerting folks to the dangers of ruptures and encouraging them to not ignore common warning signs including, abdominal pain, low grade fever, nausea, or vomiting—all of which could be mistaken for something else.
In her case, the feelings Hillary described to her friends resonated because one of them had experienced a burst appendix and was familiar with the signs. After recovering, Hillary posted an Instagram story about her surgery. About three weeks later, she received a message from someone she went to college with who thanked Hillary for her advocacy.
“She thought she had strained her abdomen while working out,” Hillary says, “but after reading my post, she decided to go and get checked out to be on the safe side, like I did. It turned out she, too, had a burst appendix. It happens more than I would have ever thought and even if you seek care to just rule that out, it’s worth it.”