Westminster professor and son write book about struggle with health care systemBy Carole Mikita, Deseret NewsPublished: Monday, Dec. 12 2011 1:38 p.m. MSTSummaryThe Whitings have a family tradition. As each child turns 13, he or she goes on a "teen trip." The out-of-town experience with their son Kevin in 2007 began innocently enough but soon turned into anightmarish journey through the health care system.“I was screaming in the back of the plane. I felt horrible for the other passengers.”PARK CITY — The Whitings have a family tradition. As each child turns 13, he or she goes on a"teen trip." The out-of-town experience with their son Kevin in 2007 began innocently enough butsoon turned into a nightmarish journey through the health care system.Vicki Whiting, a business professor at Westminster College, took Kevin to California in March whereshe had an interview with famed basketball coach John Wooden. Thats when Kevins intestinal painbegan."On the plane ride home from that, it just became excruciating," Kevin said. "I was screaming in theback of the plane. I felt horrible for the other passengers."Kevin’s severe abdominal pain was a mystery, constantly misdiagnosed. At one point, medicationpushed Kevin toward suicide and the entire family to the edge. What he and his mother learned led thetwo to publish a book titled, "In Pain We Trust," an examination of the familys ordeal with Kevinshealth and the health care system they relied on."Im a researcher by training," Vicki Whiting said, "and it took every bit of my research training to keepKevin alive."Many doctor visits and hospital stays followed that plane ride home, but his condition only worsened."Unbeknownst to us, a doctor had used shorthand to describe his appearance as anorexic," Vickirecalled. "However, because it was in his medical charts, it was interpreted, and each subsequent visit,Mikita, Carole. "Westminster professor and son write book about struggle with health caresystem." Deseret News. Deseret News, 12 Dec. 2011. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.
to be anorexia nervosa, which is a real disease, and its a bad disease, but it wasnt Kevins disease."Because certain doctors wrote him off as anorexic, Kevin says he was really frustrated. "I was writhingin pain, and theyd keep asking me stupid questions like, Do you get bullied? ... and trying to diagnoseme as depressed."Shredding phone books distracted Kevin from the pain that came in waves. Morphine did not help.The family says Kevin being "labeled" prevented a correct diagnosis for a year and a half. Kevin wasnow more than 5 feet tall and weighed only 63 pounds. The pain prevented him from eating much.One doctor prescribed an antidepressant. The increased strength of the drug caused Kevin to becomesuicidal.The family could never leave Kevin alone for fear of what he might do."I remember sitting on the bed and just asking him if he couldnt live for himself, maybe he could livefor us," Vicki said.She said they needed to get away, so they traveled to Australia, where they found medical professionalswho listened without preconceived notions of what was ailing Kevin. They found pain medicationsunavailable in the United States and advice to help wean him off antidepressants. All of it at lowercosts than in Utah.Outside of the medical treatment, Kevin found that naps with a baby kangaroo at a wildlife preservealso helped him restore his will to live.Still, the Whitings didnt find the cure or even a correct diagnosis abroad.The correct diagnosis would come not long after their return to Utah, when a family friend andphysician looked into the case and determined Kevin was suffering from Wilkies syndrome, a rareblockage of the intestine caused by exterior pressure from a large artery.Since surgery to correct the problem, Kevins health has improved and he has put on a little weight. Buthe still has to watch what he eats and sees doctors on a regular basis for follow-ups.A senior at Park City High School, Kevin volunteers at the new hospital there."Ive decided I want to become a surgeon when I get older, so I want to go through med school and tryMikita, Carole. "Westminster professor and son write book about struggle with health caresystem." Deseret News. Deseret News, 12 Dec. 2011. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.
and make a difference in the health care system," he said.They share their story, subtitled, “A Conversation Between Mother and Son on the Journey fromSickness to Health,” to create awareness.Mikita, Carole. "Westminster professor and son write book about struggle with health caresystem." Deseret News. Deseret News, 12 Dec. 2011. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.