Macomb County mother DeShunda Keith is in need of help to pay for her son’s daily life in debilitating pain. Here’s why they’re holding out hope in 2020.
WARREN, MI — Everyday he fills a garbage bag full of hot water, ties it up, then lies down. Draping the sloshy, heavy, temporary soother across his weary chest and abdomen to ease his stomach that envelops him in cramping, stabbing pain.
“It’s like a pain to the point I don’t do anything,” said 22-year-old Warren resident Shane McLean. “When I first get it I will lay on the floor under a cover.”
Day in. Day out, pain is, seemingly, one of the constants in McLean’s life.
Diagnosed with gastroparesis — partial stomach paralysis, which causes severe abdominal pain, malnutrition, nausea, malabsorption (can’t properly digest food), and a host of other symptoms — this ailment has been the culprit of many hardships. This includes him losing every single job he’s ever had. It also caused McLean to lose 40 pounds in just a month and a half earlier this year.
“They don’t know what to do when I go to the hospital,” McLean, who has inflammation in his stomach and possible stomach lining damage from constantly throwing up, said. “They see if I can keep my food down. Even if I can’t keep it down they … have me leave.”
A Mother’s Mission
Luckily, another constant in his life is his unshakeable mother, DeShunda Keith, of Warren.
Keith said that her son has battled diabetes since he was 13 years old and it caused nerve damage to his stomach, which doesn’t naturally break down the food so the food can be expelled. McLean developed gastroparesis from it.
Keith is researching top clinics to see who can help her son, whether they are out of state or down the road.
“Whoever reaches out to me first — we just need to get there,” Keith said.
Surgery would treat McLean. One medical facility told Keith that they would cover 80 percent of the costs and she would be responsible for the remaining 20 percent or about $50,000. Keith created a GoFundMe for McLean to help offset those expenses.
Keith said that July 31, McLean’s 22nd birthday was a breaking point for him.
“That is when he said he didn’t want to live — that is what got all of this started,” Keith said. “He was in the hospital maybe two days (before his birthday) and they didn’t do anything for him. he was in a week before that.”
There isn’t really any pain medication (outside of an opiate) that he could take; doctors are not prescribing opiates to him because of the addicting factor.
“He does his own pain therapy; he wraps himself in heating blankets and we rub peppermint oil on him to help with nausea,” Keith said. “It’s a lot of pain with him throwing up like that.”
They Are Inspired to Vote for A Better Future
The family has an appointment with the Cleveland Clinic Sept. 10 to find a solution to McLean’s condition. But his journey is far from over.
“Sept. 10 is like decision day,” she said. “They will let me know once they see him,” adding that anything they do for him they will do immediately. They have a team: a gastroenterologist, endocrinologist, gastrointestinal tract team. they put together a treatment (plan).”
November is also decision day when she plans to choose presidential nominee Joe Biden, who she thinks would have a better response plan for the health needs of families like hers who need help the most.
“I think he understands the plight of the middle class working family,” she said. “I think with him being under the leadership of (President Barack) Obama he had a front seat on how Black America views a lot of things and the issues and the plights we have.”
She said, presently, she doesn’t like how the current president’s mismanagement of healthcare in the nation is impacting her son.
“With me at this moment for my son I have to beg people to help me save my son’s life. It’s all rooted in systemic racism,” she said.
“I personally think that Donald Trump is not helping the healthcare situation,” McLean said. “I don’t think he is doing anything to improve it or anything.”
A Son’s Hope
McLean has received an outpouring of community support from friends and family alike who have donated money, volunteered their time and more to get him closer to his financial goal. He said that he is grateful for their help, because everyday that he does not receive treatment is a day where he has to experience constant pain.
The only brief reprieve he gets is when he is immersed in hot water (or, like with the garbage bags, covering his body).
“I can feel the difference when I am soaking in water; it doesn’t hurt as bad,” McLean said.
He started doing the water/garbage bag treatment because he didn’t have enough money to purchase another heating blanket when he accidentally forgot his at a hospital during one of his visits.
McLean is not one to lose hope, though, despite his physical condition. Despite it all, he remains steady as light optimism imbues him with strength for the next day.
“I think I’ll be ok,” he said.