Tampa police officer finds help for her debilitating illness

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Officer Lorrie Anderson works the night beat on District 1 for the Tampa Police Department. On any given night, anything could happen. But it wasn’t a criminal or any crime that brought this competitive, active mother of two to her knees. Officer Anderson says, “I had severe pain in the pit of my stomach that just never went away.” 

It was a mystery illness that kept getting worse. “It got to the point I couldn’t play with my kids because I was constantly running to the bathroom.”

She feared she could no longer function successfully either as a police officer or a mother. “To me that was my main focus, that’s one of those things where I needed to get things situated so I can be a good mom for them. They’re babies.” 

A visit to a doctor led to medication, but no cure. Officer Anderson’s suffering continued. “I just felt hopeless.”

That was, until another officer on the force, who had similar symptoms, led her to a doctor at Florida Hospital Tampa. His name is Dr. Allen Chudzinski and he’s a colorectal surgeon. “Officer Anderson presented with a complicated situation called ulcerative colitis. It’s a severe inflammation of her entire colon and rectum. This can be quite debilitating,” said Dr. Chudzinski.

Dr. Chudzinski offered a surgical option some might find difficult and daunting. “A robotic total protocolectomy and J pouch. We can make multiple small eight millimeter incisions into her abdominal cavity, blowup the abdominal cavity with air. Then we insert robotic arms that we control at the bedside.  We were able to remove her entire colon and her rectum. We then take her small intestines and make a pouch out of it.  The pouch is shaped like the letter j – thus its name j pouch.” 

And, when she woke up from surgery, “All the pain I felt that was so debilitating it was gone, absolutely gone,” she said. 

Now, she says she’s back to 100 percent. “Every part of my life has been restored back to me.  I’m able to do anything everything. I have no limitations,” said Officer Anderson.

Her message after going through a year of debilitating symptoms: don’t wait to get help. It is out there, and there is no reason to live with that kind of pain. 

For more information on the illness or the procedure:  www.digestivehealthtampa.com or www.FH.com.