Sunday, December 15, 2013

I Had Full Faith and Confidence in the Medical Community, Until...

Ken Hood is the kindest bloke you ever met. I knew him as the song leader at my childhood church. He would stand at the podium, waving his one arm to the stanzas of the hymns the congregation was supposed to sing, his arm and hand looking like the neck, head, and bill of a duck, twitching up and down. His voice would reverberate like those really bad singers on the radio, but his voice sounded soothing and good.

We both moved on in life and lost touch with each other and then, like so many modern stories, reconnected again on social media, Facebook, specifically.

I count Ken among my good friends that I never see and yet know are out there, ready to eat food at my table whenever asked. So, it hurts me deeply when I see his pain and suffering come across my view.

On November 20, 2013, Ken woke up to stabbing pain in his jaw. It radiated to his entire face, right eye and ear. The pain had begun the week before, but had gotten consistently worse, finally culminating to the point where Ken didn't even see a point in existing anymore.

In today's modern medical world, we rush to the dentist, doctor, oral surgeon, periodontist, anyone. Our confidence in the medical community is acute, built up over decades of success stories. We see the stories of Zach Sobeich, who died of incurable osteosarcoma, or the recent setback for HIV/AIDS research and think of them as anomalies.  We think nothing will ever happen to us that a doctor can't figure out.

I imagine Ken felt the same way. As you read through his November 20 - December 14 timeline you see that he was confident in his doctors and dentists, et al, and yet, that confidence was quickly shattered, turning into anxiety and hopelessness, driven by life debilitating pain.

Ken had x-rays. Nothing. He had a tooth pulled to no avail. He had more exams. He had dry sockets, which were packed, came unpacked, then packed again. He was prodded, tapped, cut into, sewed up, bounced around, denied access to care due to a poor state health provider network, was forced to make decisions based on finances, rather than health, etc. He had teams of doctors tell him they could do nothing. He was prescribed pain killers, taken orally, even through IVs. He wept (he's a weeper) with happiness when they worked, then suffered even more when they wore off. People were kind, but clueless. 

Only now, on December 16, does he claim that his pain is about half of what it grew to be. I can see Ken trying hard to smile and stay positive, even though his jaw is stiff.

The doctors are saying that they suspect 'necrosis of the jaw bone' now. I hope they find the true problem because my teeth will hurt until they do. And yes, I do still have full faith and confidence in the medical community. It's just that time is sometimes the worst enemy of the subjects of the research, especially when chronic pain is involved, and yet, time is a necessary component in getting things right.


  1. I know that not having answers are rough. I have a daughter that is a year younger than Analeise ( I think I spelled that wrong) who since birth has had gi/gerd/throwing up and we still dont know what is wrong. She has had a barium swallow upper gi xray and an ultrasound of her gall bladder. What makes things more interesting is that i work in the health care field. We go in January to the pediatric Gi doctor at Batson children's hsopital in Jackson, MS so I hoping we find some answers. Thanks for listening, Andrea Weaver