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Friday, September 2, 2011

Kyle Willis, R.I.P.

Kyle Willis
Image from
Kyle Willis, who happens to be the nephew of Bootsy Collins, died last Tuesday from a tooth infection. In Cincinnati. Ohio. America.
...He leaves behind a 6-year-old daughter.

Willis went to an emergency room near his home about two weeks ago with a painful toothache,
[Patti] Collins said. Doctors prescribed an antibiotic and pain medication. Willis, who was unemployed and did not have medical insurance, purchased the $3 pain medication but not the $27 antibiotic because he couldn’t afford it, Collins said.

The infection in his tooth apparently spread to his brain...
My deepest sympathies for his family.

This story resonates with me because, about a year ago, I suffered a severe dental infection that I could not afford to give any attention to. While I was employed at the time, I too had no insurance and was living on the subsistence wage of a line cook. Many people in America find themselves in this situation.

This was a serious one, spreading up into my upper cheekbones and threatening my eyes. The arc of my swelling cheeks infringed on my vision.

It got close enough to my brain to pinch off my auditory canals. I could only hear sounds in the lower registers. When I dropped fries, I could hear the "galump" of the basket hitting the oil, but not the higher-pitched sound of frying. I could no longer judge a medium burger from a well-done, by my usual habit of listening for the diminishing sizzle. Listening to familiar music at home was actually kind of amusing... notes in the treble range were simply gone.

I knew I was in a race against time - would my white blood cells overcome this invader before it reached my brain? I was extremely aware of the danger, yet there was little I could do, as I was also aware of the dismissive attitudes towards people in my situation. I experienced a strange detachment, a fatalistic resignation over whatever be the outcome of my personal bio-warfare scenario.

After five or six days, my white blood cells won. This time.

America. We're number one.

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