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Stillwater Medical Center

Whitley's Story

"She went way above what she had to do to find out what was wrong with my daughter."

Whitley's Story

Shortly before Whitley Mack-Kokojan and her husband were to leave on a big hunting trip to Wyoming, Whitley developed a sore throat. Not that uncommon this time of year, but Whitley had a history of peritonsillar abscesses, and she did not want to take any chances. She wanted to be sure she had everything under control and was feeling great before her vacation. After a visit to an ER, steroid, and antibiotic shots, and something for pain, she was reassured she would be feeling better soon.

After a few days, Whitley felt worse. She made an appointment with Robyn Mangum, PA, in Perry who had taken care of her numerous times and knew her history. Robyn ordered some lab work and a CT of her head and neck. She also administered fluids while she waited for the results. The diagnosis was what Robin had expected, a small peritonsillar abscess. Robin immediately contacted Dr. Chris Goff, ENT, who was quickly able to see her. Dr. Goff decided to admit Whitley into the hospital for possible surgery. He started her on a regimen of antibiotics, steroids, and fluids, but nothing was working. 

On day 3, Whitley took a turn for the worse and spiked a fever. Dr. Goff consulted with Hospitalist, Dr. Jon Mark Johnson. More labs, stronger antibiotics and another CT were ordered. She improved slightly with the antibiotics, but her lab work and throat were still not improving, even though the abscess had disappeared.

Robyn stayed in touch with the family, and with Dr. Goff. She was aware that Whitley was not getting better. She then remembered that Whitley and her husband owned a taxidermy business and wondered if it could be related in any way. Robin reviewed studies and professional journals about Tularemia, a rare but serious infection normally found in wild animals and typically only affects a few hundred patients per year.

While it seemed like a long shot, after receiving the concerns from Robyn and Dr. Goff, Dr. Johnson ordered testing for Tularemia. The next day, the results confirmed that Whitley was positive for this rare infection. The team set her up on a treatment plan and within a few days, her lymph nodes had decreased from “baseball size to goose eggs.” The progress made Whitley and the family very hopeful.

As for the hunting trip to Wyoming, Whitley missed it due to her hospitalization. She insisted that her husband continue with his plans to “get the big one.” The day her Tularemia results came back, her husband sent her a photo of the “big one” he shot.

“I cannot thank Robyn Mangum PA or say enough good things about her. She went way above what she had to do to find out what was wrong with my daughter. She knew my daughter’s history and knew she was unique. Dr. Goff and Dr. Johnson showed great care and concern for my daughter while she was at Stillwater Medical. I was very impressed with the great TEAMWORK Robyn, Dr. Goff, and Dr. Johnson had during the process. They were always keeping us informed of the situation. I believe my daughter taught them all something new during this hospital stay.  Not everything is always textbook. We thought she was a tonsil abscess/tonsilitis and turned out to be a serious infectious disease.”

-Shelly Mack, B.S. Ed., BSN