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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Drink some water and drive on, soldier: A veteran’s misdiagnosis

A Utah man is striving to live a full and rewarding life in the U.S. military after he was misdiagnosed with a condition that eventually led to the removal of part of his intestine.

Staff Sgt. Mark Taylor started experiencing abdominal pain that he did not receive on the battlefield.
He decided to get a colonoscopy to see if that would diagnose his problem, and had it done at a military hospital. The military doctor’s diagnosis: irritable bowel syndrome.

 "'Drink some water and drive on, soldier...'--that was their attitude about it," he says.

He followed his doctor’s orders and deployed to Germany and Kosovo. As a member of the reserves, Mark later discovered that his pain was getting worse. It turns out that he did not have irritable bowel syndrome. He had a more serious condition: ulcerative colitis. "
“By the time that I found out exactly what it was, my illness had progressed so far that it was pretty much incurable at that time," he said.
Having gone so long untreated, his condition had progressed to the point that surgeons had no other choice but to remove his entire colon. This sudden and dangerous turn put Mark in a fight for his life.

 As if ulcerative colitis wasn’t bad enough, doctors also diagnosed him with bacterial meningitis.

 "When you have a doctor tell you they don’t think they’re going to live…that’s really scary," said his wife, Jennifer. 

She knew that her husband was no quitter and that he would fight to survive.

Mark recovered and eventually decided to re-enter the military. 
"I really wanted to go back and take care of soldiers," he said.

Unearned suffering can be redemptive, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said. It is for Mark.

Advice to victims of medical error: Teach and help others after you learn from your suffering.

Read another of our veterans’ stories, or read the source story by Nicole Hunter and Doug Ware.

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