After decades of pain, woman gets her life back thanks to UK dentist
Like many of Dr. Jeffrey Okeson’s patients, Pam Ziegler had seen a variety of doctors before coming to the UK Orofacial Pain Clinic about five years ago. Although she had completed various treatment plans to address chronic pain following an accident, Ziegler had been unable to reach an acceptable quality of life through these treatments.
After suffering an accident in 1978 that resulted in a broken jawbone, Ziegler underwent nearly 10 orofacial surgeries in addition to a series of extensive dental treatments. Even after undergoing these treatments, she was still suffering from pain and uncontrollable muscle contractions. These contractions impacted her jaw function and occlusion, or the way her teeth aligned when she bit down, which resulted in pain and extreme difficulty in talking and eating.
In addition to intense pain, previous treatment plans also robbed Ziegler of her mobility and independence, as early solutions included heavy doses of medication that left her unable to go about her typical day-to-day routines.
Returning to her routine
To help make her chronic pain manageable and avoid a mobility-limiting medication schedule, Ziegler makes a trip from northern Ohio to visit the UK Orofacial Pain Clinic every six to seven weeks to receive treatment. These treatments have made it possible for her to significantly reduce her medications, allowing her to return to her routine daily activities.
“I thought [Okeson] was a hero when I got my normal bite back and had significant pain reduction," she said. "When you are in the severe, chronic pain like I was when I first saw Dr. Okeson, it just takes everything out of you, emotionally and physically. It was just so draining. I couldn’t drive a car when I first saw him, and now I’m out running around all the time. Really he has helped give me a life back.”
Ziegler praises the variety of services available in the clinic and its faculty and staff, and she noted that the clinic is a special place that offers hope to people with complex issues. “I can’t tell you how many doctors I have been to throughout the United States before I made it here, and I have never had a doctor like Dr. Okeson – so thorough, so personal, so caring, just down to earth,” Ziegler said.
Okeson made such an impression on Ziegler that she located a copy of his first medical textbook and asked that he sign it during an appointment as a keepsake. In return, she gifted Okeson a world globe for his desk with the inscription, “World-renowned Doctor.”
“I told him he can never ever retire,” she joked.