Like most men in their 20s, Kevin Dawson never paid much attention to his hips.
The problems started about a year and a half ago. Pain spread from his lower back to his hips, becoming chronic, then debilitating. By the fall of 2008, Dawson was walking with a cane and feared his future would be confined to a wheelchair. In December that year, he realized a chiropractor alone wasn't enough and "scrounged" up enough money for an MRI.
"If you can even get on a waiting list, it's $500 just to see a doctor for a consultation," he said.
Now 30, Dawson was diagnosed with avascular necrosis, a disease that cut blood supply from his hip joints, decaying and destroying bones and cartilage. As the guitarist/lead vocalist of Oklahoma City rock band Winter Circle, he said he was barely able to afford rent. A $100,000 surgery seemed out of the question, almost laughable.
But Dr. Corey Ponder, an orthopedic surgeon with the Oklahoma Sports and Orthopedics Institute, offered to help, donating surgery to Dawson, who underwent his first hip replacement April 27.
His left hip is "healing up great," and he will re-enter the operating room Friday morning to have his right hip replaced. Five to eight hours later, he will emerge from surgery, his hope of walking weighted only by piles of medical bills.
Family and friends have donated, chipping away at the $25,000 Dawson estimates he will owe, and the singer/songwriter hopes a 12-song CD and new rock 'n' roll side project can make a dent in the rest of the debt.
The $10 collection of acoustic songs was inspired by a songwriting camp Dawson attended prior to his diagnosis. This summer, he will perform at Tulsa's Dfest and a handful of local concerts backed by bassist and OU Wire "LOKL Show" DJ Adam Croom, drummer Eric Gameros and The Nixons guitarist Jesse Davis.
"They've been so great," Dawson said about his new bandmates, before laughing, "I show up to practice, sit in my chair and we struggle through it. This has been a life-altering experience. I'm so thankful "¦ this is my second chance." "Joe Wertz