Doug’s story: Toothache saved my life

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

By: Femi Cole

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An unbearable toothache sent Doug LaCount to the emergency room last winter, a trip that likely saved his life.


Doug’s struggles with his sore tooth were nothing new. He kept shrugging it off and treating it with occasional pain relievers, even as the throbbing moved to his jawline. Eventually, the pain, coupled with his wife’s growing concern, was too much for Doug to ignore.


Doug, who is in his late 40s, headed to the emergency department at Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay. There, Dr. Nels Rose of BayCare Clinic Emergency Physicians suspected lockjaw – spasms in the jaw muscles that can force the mouth to remain closed – and ordered a CT scan. The results unexpectedly showed an abnormality.


Rose suspected an aneurysm in Doug’s brain.


“I’m pretty sure it’s lockjaw, but we have an incidental finding. I would get this taken care of immediately,” Rose told Doug in the waiting room.


Doug made an appointment to see Dr. Ziad Darkhabani, an interventional neurologist with Aurora BayCare Interventional Neurology.  He took a closer look at the CT scan and confirmed the aneurysm.


“It’s there, and it’s larger than we thought,” Darkhabani said, suggesting surgery as Doug’s best treatment option.


The toothache that had caused Doug pain for months now seemed of little concern.


“When I came back home and drove down my driveway, I didn’t think I would ever see it again,” Doug recalls. He made an appointment to have surgery.


During the procedure, a small catheter is inserted into an artery in the leg and advanced to the aneurysm. Coils are placed to stop blood flow to the aneurysm and prevent future bleeding or rupture.


Doug was discharged the day after his procedure and has recovered well.


Doug says he feels “lucky” that Rose studied the initial CT scan images and saw something of concern.


He’s thankful for the skilled interventional neurology team that helped him.


“These people do amazing things,” Doug said. He is especially grateful for Darkhabani’s ability to make patients feel at ease.


“I always thought of myself as perfectly healthy. When something happens, these people help you get better.”


Dr. Ziad Darkhabani sees patients in Green Bay, Manitowoc, and Oshkosh. For appointments, call 855-819-9935 or request one online. Dr. Nels Rose sees patients in Green Bay, Oshkosh, and Two Rivers.

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BayCare Clinic,, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.