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Ana Buchholz: A Life-Saving Story Still worth Telling

     “I tell Rosemary every time I see her, ‘you saved my life,’” says Ana Buchholz, a Gackle resident who, seven and a half years ago, experienced something that is still worth talking about.
     It was June of 2007, and Ana had been having terrible reoccurring backaches for about a year.  “One night, I couldn’t sleep because of the pain, and I asked Buck (Ana’s husband) to take me to the Wishek hospital.”  She originally thought it was a kidney infection, but the doctor had different thoughts.  “He wanted to feel my stomach and when he did, he reported it was hard.”  They prescribed some pain and blood pressure medication and scheduled Ana for an Xray the following day.  Since the pain had subsided by then, Ana cancelled her Xray appointment, but two weeks later, the pain got much worse.

“She touched my belly and said, ‘I can feel your heartbeat. I believe you have an aneurysm.’  She just knew right away.”

     It was July 3rd when she went in to the Gackle Clinic to see WHC’s PA-C Rosemary Hauff, who also wanted to feel her stomach.  “She touched my belly and said, ‘I can feel your heartbeat. I believe you have an aneurysm.’  She just knew right away,” recalls Ana.  With Rosemary’s consent, Ana and Buck headed to Fargo that night to get Xrays, covering their bases so as to be in the same city as their daughter, Kathy, in case this would turn into surgery.
     The next day, Ana underwent tests, Xrays and ultrasounds.  The results showed she had an abdominal aortic aneurysm, meaning the large blood vessel (aorta) that supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs had become abnormally large and started ballooning outward.  If left untreated, it could have eventually ruptured.
     Ana’s aneurysm measured eight by ten centimeters in size.  A vascular surgeon who performed Ana’s procedure, knew the risk of having an aneurism that large.  “If it bursts during surgery, you'll be gone,” he told her.
     “So do I have a 50/50 chance?” Ana asked.  His reply calmed her fears.  He was 99.9% sure that would not happen and that she would get through the procedure just fine.  The faith Ana had in Rosemary’s guidance and her surgeon kept her positive in spite of the nervousness she felt.
      The following Monday, July 9th, Ana underwent the surgery that replaced her aorta.  She woke up Tuesday morning in ICU and had to re-learn how to walk.  “It was very hard,” recalls Ana.  “They had to cut through muscle and nerves, so my right leg went numb for a while.”  After being discharged, Ana stayed with her daughter in Fargo to continue recovery.

“We are very lucky to have that level of medical service for our small community. Very lucky.”

      In August, Ana returned to her home in Gackle and replaced her walker with a cane that she used until the end of that year.  Ana had a lot of help from her husband throughout the recovery process.  “I knew I had to keep it together because she was in trouble and I wanted to make sure, hopefully, that they would be able to fix everything.  I knew I had to keep from being a basket case and give her all I could,” said Buck, Ana’s husband of 53 years.  At the time, the couple owned the Tri-County Newspaper.  With the help from family members and friends, the paper stayed afloat during Ana’s recovery, and Buck was still able to spend much of July in Fargo with his wife.
     Ana’s first surgery was followed by a second just six months later.  Ana had another aneurysm close to her heart that was fixed with a stent graft.  Other than a scar that extends from under her left arm to her navel and a change in her vocal chords that soon corrected itself, Ana has been able to go about her daily life with few hindrances.  “I can’t even tell,” says Ana about the artificial aorta and graft.  Ana was 63 years old when she went through the surgeries.  She is now 70 and stays active with housework, cooking and baking.  Rosemary has remained Ana’s primary care provider.  “Oh she is great.  You can't beat her.  We have cousins in Medina that come just to see her.  Rosemary is personal and thorough.  She will go over everything with you…if one thing doesn’t work, she will try something different.”
      Buck is also happy to have facilities and providers in our communities that take care of people like they did his wife.  “We are very lucky to have this level of medical service for our small community. Very lucky,” said Buck.

“Oh she is great.  You can't beat her.  Rosemary is personal and thorough.  She will go over everything with you.”


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