Finding the right diagnosis – and the right doctor
None of the doctors, nurses, or physician assistants that Lucy Purvis visited over almost a year were able to determine why she had a really bad pain in her left side. A gynecologist checked for a fallen bladder. Wrong. A urologist checked for kidney problems. Wrong. A neurologist checked for nerve damage. Wrong again.
Mrs. Purvis was the one who came up with the diagnosis. When she told the next doctor what she thought was the problem, however, he examined her and said – Wrong. Then, almost by chance, “as if it were meant to be,” Mrs. Purvis found the doctor who recognized her problem and fixed it, with expertise and compassion.
Thumbing through the local newspaper last spring, she had seen a short article with a photograph of a familiar face. Dr. Thomas Wehmann had been her late husband’s surgeon at another hospital. He had been the best one, the most experienced, with the warmest, most compassionate bedside manner. She remembers thinking then, that when you got Thomas Wehmann as your doctor, you got it all. Now he was practicing surgery at Coffee Regional Medical Center, 36 miles from where she lived in Hoboken, and Mrs. Purvis, herself, needed some of that expertise and care. She picked up the phone.
Before long, she was in his office in Douglas, telling him about her pain and her convoluted search for a diagnosis. She was almost hesitant to tell him what she thought it might be. He gently examined her and congratulated her on her insight.
From then on, everything went so smoothly. Pre-op registration at CRMC was a breeze, very professional. She was scheduled for surgery the next morning at 6 am, but Dr. Wehmann was called into emergency surgery. When he came to see her before she was wheeled into surgery shortly thereafter, he apologized profusely for being late. She laughed. After spending so much time in hospitals with her husband, she completely understood emergencies. Of course he should have taken care of that first. But his concern for her just reinforced what she thought about him. “I have seen so many really cocky doctors in my life,” she says. “It’s good to see one who is humble and thoughtful enough to care so much about my time and feelings.”
Although Dr. Wehmann is known for his laparoscopic surgery, the placement of Mrs. Purvis’s hernia required a four-inch incision. The operation took about 35 minutes. After 40 minutes in recovery, she woke right up and “felt good to go,” although the care team was adamant she take it easy.
“I didn’t follow all the directions they gave me after the surgery,” she admits a bit sheepishly. Soon after surgery the 75-year old was back at her full-on active life, driving to her former community in Kingsland where she remains president of the GFWC Kingsland Woman’s Club, and landscaping and mowing two or more acres on her property.
When Mrs. Purvis says she is so impressed with Dr. Wehmann, with his staff, and with CRMC, her opinion has weight. With her husband’s long illness and frequent hospitalizations, she got to see how a lot of other doctors and hospitals work, both the good and the not so good. She watched and learned. When her husband didn’t need her, she often helped with other patients on the hall. She jokes with Dr. Wehmann that when she grows up, she’s going to be a doctor. In the meantime, she has found the right one for her.
Originally from Eastman, Georgia, in Dodge County, Lucille (Lucy) Purvis lived many years in Camden County. She and her late husband Herschel Elijah moved to Hoboken when they retired, to give him room to hunt and fish and to be nearer to some of their three sons and daughter, eight grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.
Dr. Wehmann is boarded in general surgery, vascular surgery, and wound care. He joined CRMC in 2012. Read his full bio here.