• Troy Brown, surgery patient


  • In June 2014, Troy Brown hadn’t been feeling well. Little did he know, an ulcer had perforated, causing him to need surgery and a long hospital stay at Holston Valley Medical Center. Now, after major recovery, Troy is back to running long distances and spending time with his family.

    Troy’s wife, Karen, shares his story.

    Troy and I met at summer camp when we were 13 years old. We lived in different states but kept in touch through the years. We were married in 1992 when both of us were 25, and we have two beautiful girls who are the lights of our life.

    On June 16, 2014, we celebrated Troy's 47th birthday. Then, June 21, Troy was brought by ambulance to Holston Valley Medical Center. I had been attending orientation at Alice Lloyd College with our youngest daughter. I didn't want to leave him because he hadn't felt well for a couple of days, but he insisted. Only minutes after I left, he drove himself to the ER at Buchanan General Hospital, where he began to throw up blood in triage. Within minutes, arrangements were being made to transfer him to a trauma center.

    Once at Holston Valley, Troy was taken immediately to the surgical floor. I was rushed to his room to find him incoherent, with his stomach swollen to an enormous size. In minutes, I met with Dr. Daniel Gonzalez, who told me he was not sure what was wrong, but immediate surgery was needed to find out – or Troy might not live another 24 hours.

    Troy was in septic shock due to what Dr. Gonzalez discovered was a duodenal perforated ulcer. After surgery, Troy spent the next few days in SICU on a ventilator. He had another emergency surgery on Sunday, June 29, where Dr. Andrew Kramer corrected a bowel blockage, and finally, he began making improvements. In all, he spent 12 days in SICU, nine of which were on a ventilator, a total of 17 days in the hospital, and months of recovery.


    This summer, Troy ran the Crazy 8s in downtown Kingsport for the second time. Troy loves to run – it’s a hobby he picked up after gastric bypass surgery in 2009 (also at Holston Valley). The Saturday before he got sick, he had run 10 miles just because it was a pretty day. It seems completely unimaginable that 10 days later, his heart had to be shocked in SICU.

    His recovery after gastric bypass was slow, but he managed to run a four-mile leg of the Haunted Half in October 2014. He had another surgery in September 2015 to install a large screen to correct a hernia. Our goal, along with Dr. Kramer, is to make it through 2016 surgery-free – and we're more than halfway there!


    I could not ever express my gratitude to Dr. Kramer, Dr. Gonzalez and the SICU staff. The first night in SICU, I can remember a young nurse named Noah who stood for what seemed to me like hours squeezing bags of fluid with his hands in an effort to keep Troy's heart going. He must have been completely exhausted, but kept on squeezing the bags, one after the other. He was kind and compassionate, but completely honest about the seriousness of Troy's condition. And that was not the only terrifying day that the nursing staff helped get us through. We could have never anticipated being faced with everything we were thrown, from widespread organ failure to ICU psychosis. The entire SICU nursing staff were some of the most wonderful people I have been blessed to meet.

    During these difficult days, I also stayed in the Eastman Hospitality House in Wilcox Hall so I could be close to Troy, which meant so much to me. Until this happened, he was in excellent health, and there was no possible way for us to predict it. We are so thankful Holston Valley was prepared to handle the darkest hours that we have ever faced. Holston Valley saved his life, and my family and I are eternally grateful.


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