Driving down the highway, Tamika Larkin-Stowers went from laughing with her cousin to suddenly waking up to the sound of truck horns and panic in her cousin’s voice. She barely had time to swerve off the road to avoid a major collision and had no idea what just happened to her. This was her first experience having a noticeable seizure and the timing almost took her life.
Imagine excruciating pain every time you put a mask on, brush your teeth, or even kiss your spouse. Lee Roy Nail of Stewart, Mississippi, lived that pain for years. With a constant sensation of burning from his eyebrow all the way down to his chin and across to his ear, the pain was so bad that he couldn’t shave. His beard was so long that his kids and their friends referred to him as “lumberjack.”
Nail tried everything to reduce his agony. Dental work didn’t help, medications didn’t last. “I don’t know how many doctors we went to,” said Nail’s wife, Karol. “One of them even told us it was all in his head! That he was making up the pain in his mind.”
When Patrick Kerns had a stroke on Feb. 9, his CT scan at the University of Mississippi Medical Center revealed a brain bleed that could have killed him.
If that wasn’t enough, the scans showed an unexpected and not necessarily related problem: an aneurysm of his right internal carotid artery, a major artery that carries blood to the brain.
When we decided to start a family, we had no idea what was in store for us. After not being able to get pregnant on our own, and after a few failed attempts at other procedures, we decided to try IVF, which luckily succeeded in the very first round. 32 weeks later we welcomed our baby boy, James, into the world. We were so happy to finally bring him home after his three-week stay in the NICU. Little did we know what was waiting around the corner for him. Our son, who already had a rough start in life, would soon face a scary brain cancer diagnosis.
“The staff at UMMC literally and figuratively saved my life.” Paul Miller, 38 of Horn Lake, received emergent surgery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in November of 2020 and he couldn't be more grateful.
In 2014, Miller was diagnosed with a pituitary brain tumor. He opted for brain surgery outside of Mississippi. He first received a trans labial resection, a procedure to remove as much of the tumor as possible through his nose, then received radiation to shrink what remained. Able to carry on with his regular lifestyle, Miller lived on his own, worked, and helped take care of his family with minimal difficulties for several years.
On July 5, 2019, Judy Herrington, a 60-year-old physical therapist from Madison, was scheduled to have her cardiac pacemaker’s battery replaced at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. “It was a routine outpatient procedure, so I didn’t feel the need to ask anyone to accompany me,” said Judy. “I thought I would be in and out that same day.” Little did Judy know she would be at the hospital for four days recovering from an acute ischemic stroke.
Bradley Hamblin, a 24-year-old from Dennis, was having continuous headaches that by September of 2020, had turned into severe migraines. Thinking it might be related to his eyeglass prescription, he made an appointment to see an optometrist. His eye exam revealed a swollen optic nerve that sent him to the emergency room for further evaluation. “I went to the ER at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo,” Bradley said. “They did a CT scan that showed a large mass, and so they ordered an MRI which indicated I had a brain tumor.”
Kathleen Keeton, a 79-year-old from Jackson, has a long history of back pain. She first underwent back surgery in 2012, followed by hip and knee replacement. Following the surgeries, she was able to resume most of her normal activities including walking with a cane for stability and driving. In late 2019, Dr. Chad Washington, Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery, treated her with steroids for lumbar stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal. She seemed fine until December, when she began having excruciating lower back pain and difficulty walking.