Retired chef stays active after successful surgeries

With all surgeries, especially when multiple surgeries are expected, it is always best to have a clear plan of action.

For John Wilkinson, 61, a retired chef at an Albuquerque restaurant, the best course of action proved to be ‘one step at a time.’

“I was referred to Dr. Mario Leyba by my doctor,” said Wilkinson. “Dr. Leyba is a caring and compassionate physician. He had a great plan for my health.”

Wilkinson met Dr. Leyba after an extended visit with friends in California. During that visit, Wilkinson was hospitalized for constipation and diverticulosis, which resulted in a colostomy and a fistula, an abnormal connection between body parts. In Wilkinson’s case, there was a connection between his colon and his bladder that required surgery.

Multiple surgeries

According to Dr. Leyba, Wilkinson needed multiple surgeries involving “complex surgical issues requiring expert care in both colon surgery and hernia surgery.” These surgeries involved both traditional surgical methods and robotic equipment.

When hernia surgery is performed, it is not specific to a particular organ. A hernia is a condition that occurs when an internal organ protrudes through an opening in a weak section of muscle or tissue. Some hernias can develop slowly over time, while other hernias can appear in a matter of moments. Wilkinson has a history of constipation, which led to diverticulosis and hernia surgeries. Constipation can increase pressure within the digestive tract when straining during bowel movements. If untreated, this can lead to diverticulosis, a condition in which pockets form and push through weak spots in the digestive tract.

Under Dr. Leyba’s care, surgeries to remove the fistula, repair hernias and reconstruct Wilkinson’s abdominal wall were done in stages to improve healing. To prepare, Wilkinson lost weight and completed a smoking cessation program.

“What I liked about Dr. Leyba,” said Wilkinson, “is that we waited a year between surgeries so that I would heal. He also ordered a CT scan of my stomach to make sure everything was in place for the next surgery. I knew he wanted to make sure it would be a success.”

After the final five-hour surgery, Wilkinson awoke in the recovery room before being transferred to his hospital room. “I saw Dr. Leyba about an hour or so after getting to the floor. When he told me that the surgery was a success, I was very happy.”

Staying active and telling others

While Wilkinson continues to recover from surgery, he doesn’t shy away from taking walks and being active.

“It’s starting to get warm, so I am looking forward to getting outside and gradually building up how long I can walk. Even though I have a bit of osteoarthritis in my knees, it has never kept me from getting outside. Dr. Leyba says that it’s good that I am staying active and walking.”

Wilkinson also is quick to share his recommendations for the care he received from Dr. Leyba and his staff.

“I’ve told my neighbors in the apartment complex about Dr. Leyba,” he said. “He's a really good doctor, I would highly recommend him,” Wilkinson said.

Lovelace Medical Group is proud to have two doctors on staff who earned the designation of Master Surgeon in Robotic and Hernia Surgery: Michael Blea, MD, and Mario Leyba, MD. Read more about this accreditation on our website.

If you feel you are suffering from a hernia and want more information about our minimally invasive robotic hernia repair, visit our website or call (505) 727-0638. A physician referral is required.