A Patient’s Perspective: To Honor My Doctor

National Doctors' Day is held each year on March 30th, as a day set aside to honor the significant contribution physicians and caregivers make to communities, and their unwavering commitment to providing care to patients each and every day.

This year, Janelle Baliko wrote this heartfelt poem to share her 10 year healing journey under the care of Dr. I. David Shocket, director of Gastroenterology at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Read her poem below.


To Honor My Doctor


My body so very ill and weak
To the point I could barely speak
I reached out to you to consult
So many expectations for my end result  

You asked me to share my 23-year history
Little did you know the grueling summary
You listened intently and took lots of notes
As I narrated my account with moderate Crohn’s  

Already in your head you were planning my treatment
But nothing would be done without my full consent
You, the GI expert unequivocally  
And I the expert of my own body  

We were in this together as a team, you made clear
The rush of hope slowly replacing my fear
All I wanted was to feel better soon
You assured me this was your priority too  

How in the world is “GI” short for GastroENterology
I may never know, I’m just grateful you made it your specialty  

Through exams and tests all the way through to surgery
From day one, you’ve always treated me like family
You’ve seen me on some of my worst days at some of my worst moments
When the slightest touch to my gut was sheer torment  

The news wasn’t always good
But you knew I could handle it and handle it I would
I’ve evolved from weak into strong  
Due to your knowledge and support all along  

My Crohn’s struggles have been difficult over the years
You knew when they were bad when you saw my tears
You comforted and assured me that the treatment may take a while
But we’d do whatever was necessary to bring back my smile  

In your pocket you always had a Plan B
And ensured it was discussed and approved by me
We eventually achieved OUR goal
Remission has thoroughly revived my soul  

Your peers agree, an amazing doctor you are
Preferring to stay under the radar
But as your patient I won’t stay silent nor will I ever forget
The doctor who gave me my life back, Dr. I. David Shocket  

Thank you for nearly 10 years of caring and advisement. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. Thank you.
June 2007 – March 2017 

--Janelle Baliko


Thank you, Janelle, for sharing your story, and to all of our physicians and caregivers at MedStar Washington Hospital Center for everything you do. To learn more about how you can honor YOUR doctor, please visit our Doctors' Day page.

GERD Long-term Treatment Risks

GERD: A Common but Serious Condition

Nearly 20 percent of Americans suffer from regular bouts of heartburn, acid indigestion and other symptoms of chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).  A fortunate few find relief through lifestyle modifications such as losing weight, avoiding certain foods, elevating the head of the bed and not eating within three hours of going to sleep, among others. But many more must turn to medication to tame that burning, painful sensation.

For the last two decades, the most popular and effective GERD medicine on the market, both prescription and over-the-counter, has been a class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).

“The original PPI was first approved in the United States in 1989 for the short-term treatment of ulcers,” explains Timothy Koch, MD, a gastroenterologist and bariatric specialist at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “When doctors saw how well it worked on the symptoms of ulcers, they started to wonder if PPIs would be effective for persistent heartburn, as well.”

As everyone now knows, the answer was a resounding “yes.” But more recently, scientists have been asking, “For how long?”

“Over the last few years, there have been many studies looking at whether long-term PPI use contributes to gut infections, bone loss, chronic kidney disease and even dementia,” Dr. Koch says.  “While findings suggest an association, we don’t have any definitive answers yet.”

Untreated GERD can damage the food pipe, and contribute to Barrett’s esophagus, a risk factor for esophageal cancer, so it’s important not to ignore.  

“Through endoscopy and other specialized studies we can look for scar tissue and other irritation, measure problems with swallowing, and otherwise evaluate each patient to see if there is another cause of their discomfort…and possibly an alternative to long-term PPI treatment,” he adds.

As a precaution, Dr. Koch recommends that people who have been taking more than one PPI a day for many years seek a thorough medical re-evaluation to see if they still need—and are benefitting from— the medication.

Listen in on Dr. Koch's full interview. 

Our specialists are experts in the care of gastroesophageal reflux disease.  For an appointment, call us at


Dr. Timothy Koch

Timothy Koch, MD
MedStar Washington Hospital Center

For an appointment, call 202-877-3627.