Like many young men, 31-year-old Alberto Aristondo thought he was “invincible” and would never get sick.
That all changed on April 14, 2013 when Alberto visited The Scarborough Hospital’s Birchmount campus Emergency Department for “unbearable” pain.
“I was a total mess and the pain hit me like a ton of bricks,” he said. “I had heard horror stories about people getting sick like this, but you never think it’s going to happen to you.”
Following his initial visit to the Birchmount campus ED, Alberto met with General Surgeon Dr. Alia Qureshi who diagnosed him with diverticulitis – an inflammation of the colon. Due to the severe nature of his condition, he also developed a blood clot known as a portal vein thrombosis.
“Either of these conditions alone can be life threatening and Alberto had both,” said Dr. Qureshi. Alberto also smoked and drank alcohol, two habits which could aggravate his condition.
Within days of meeting with Dr. Qureshi, Alberto had another severe attack of both conditions and had to have emergency open surgery. This was a huge disappointment for Alberto who had hoped to have less invasive laparoscopic surgery. However, since his surgery, Dr. Qureshi has been “so moved by his courage”, and how he has committed himself to adopting a healthier lifestyle. “He is the reason I went to into medical school,” said Dr. Qureshi.
And Alberto is just as complementary about Dr. Qureshi and his entire care team. “They always took the time to meet with me and were very honest,” he explains. “They made me want to get up and fix this.”
He is equally grateful for the support of his mom Bexa Moreno, sisters Dania Aristondo and Alba Cano-Moreno, and girlfriend Jennifer Wood who stood by him throughout his illness and surgery.
For anyone facing similar healthcare challenges, Alberto offers the following advice. “The best thing I can tell everybody is to stay positive. That’s what got me through.”