By MARTHA SMITH
Special to the Standard
NORTH KINGSTOWN – Doreen Costa is the local version of the modern woman’s Energizer Bunny, always on the move.
But the Republican state representative who serves North Kingstown and Exeter in the state General Assembly was stopped in her tracks by acute pain on Aug. 2. Today she’s still recovering – and very grateful – after a hasty trip to the hospital resulted in emergency surgery and a cancer scare.
She explains that she was walking nearly three weeks ago near her office at WPRO, in East Providence, where she is an account executive, when she felt a stabbing pain.
“I thought it was too much walking or exercise; I walk a lot,” she says. “Finally, I went in and sat at my desk. In just a short while, I said to my boss, ‘This isn’t from walking.’”
In typical fashion, rather than call an ambulance, she drove herself to Kent County Hospital.
“They were phenomenal,” says Costa. “They saved my life.” After being rushed through the emergency room, she found herself being treated immediately – and intensely. “I had an IV and pain meds right away.”
A bevy of tests followed. Finally, she recalls, “The doctor came in and said, ‘We have a problem.’” Specifically, it was the kind of medical news women dread most: Costa had an ovarian mass and other reproductive system issues.
“If that had happened, the doctor told me I could’ve died.”
Costa, who had arrived at Kent in mid-morning, faced
critical surgery with a completely unpredictable outcome. Cancer was a very real possibility and she admits being scared.
“I’m never, ever sick,” she says. “My whole family was on pins and needles.”
Just as the emergency was terrifying, the result was supreme relief: the mass was benign and Costa’s prognosis is excellent. “Thank God,” she says.
She does confess to being so seriously tired she hasn’t had any choice but to dial back her feverish pace.
“The first week I didn’t leave the recliner. Then I graduated from the recliner to the couch. Last Friday was the first night I slept in bed.”
She says in those initial days home her husband, James, waited on her hand and foot. That was before he became utterly disgusted watching her tilted back in the recliner busily pursuing small political tasks while supposedly recuperating and letting her body heal.
“I was making calls, stuffing envelopes,” she admits. “Jimmy would walk in, shake his head and take away the phone. He said, ‘You don’t know how to rest, do you?’”
Costa, who will be off to the Republican National Convention next Monday before returning to work at the radio station after Labor Day, has been deluged with uplifting calls and flowers.
“There were lots of calls from people at the State House, colleagues and constituents. When I got home from the hospital, there were flowers on the front porch.”
Meanwhile, she’s easing back into action and picking up steam.
“I’m back out there,” she says. Make no mistake.
Martha Smith is an award-winning journalist and author. Retired, she is an independent contractor for SRIN.