1.Wilt Chamberlain, root canal treatment, dental implants and heart attack
Posted at InstituteOfScience.Blogspot.com Friday, March 27, 2009
Wilt Chamberlain: Re root canals, dental implants and death by heart attac
In late September or early October 1999, Wilt underwent root-canal surgery to try to save two teeth, but the effort was unsuccessful. In a short time the teeth were hanging by tissue and had to be removed. Wilt decided to get implants.
On Wednesday, October 6, Wilt underwent the first stage of
the tooth-implant procedure in which a metal fixture is inserted into the
jawbone, upper or lower. While Wilt was, in Lynda huey's words, "a
world-class complainer," he didn't normally complain about his health---in
fact, he wouldn't even let certain people broach the subject to him, the
category into which Huey acknowledged she fell.
But after the dental surgery on that Wednesday, Wilt called Goldberg about 6:00 p.m. and told him he was having the worst pain he had ever experienced." This was something he had never done," Goldberg said." He was impervious to pain--- Goliath didn't hurt." Wilt also called his sister Barbara, according to Goldberg, and told her the same thing. Zelda Spoelstra remembers his call to her, too, at that time: "When he called me almost crying from the pain, that will always stay with me," she remarked.
On the night of Thursday, October 7, Spoelstra called Wilt. He told her he wasn"t feeling any better and"couldn't even lift a fork."
On Friday, October 8, Wilt saw his cardiologist and agreed
to an operation to insert a pacemaker, something medical people had urged
him to do for some time, according to Goldberg. Wilt called Spoelstra
later that day to tell her he was getting a pacemaker, although she wonders
if Wilt did that just to tell her something that he knew she wanted to her.
On Saturday, October 9, Wilt was tired and weak and was not eating. The man with the magnificent physique was wasting away.
Wilt's sister Barbara had been with him more than usual during these last difficult weeks. His sister Selena had come from New Jersey to spell Barbara, but Selena had returned to the East Coast by October 9, Barbara went over to Wilt's home that Saturday and cooked him chicken and dumplings, his favorite meal, the dish his mother used to prepare for him at their West Philadelphia home so many years before. Wilt didn't touch it.
Later that evening, Lynda Huey arrived. Barbara and her husband, Elzie Lewis, left. Huey remembered that Wilt, whom many consider not only one of the strongest people who ever lived, could barely make it up the stairs and stand by himself at the top. She lay with him in his bed, and they watched a movie- an activity they had done many times in that house over the course of 28 years. The roof-the famous retractable roof-was open, and Huey recalled that a gentle breeze caressed them. She wrapped her arms around Wilt to comfort him, braced for him to brush her off, but this time he did not, she remarked. She left him saying, "Feel better, Wiltie."
The next day, Sunday, October 10, Wilt spoke by Telephone to Carl Green, an ex-Globetrotter buddy who lived in New York.
On Tuesday, Joe Mendoza, Wilt's gardener for more than 16 years, was working on the property, and around noon, when he hadn't seen any signs of Wilt, he went into the house, where he found Wilt upstairs in bed. The gardener called 911 and then phoned Sy Goldberg, who happened to be driving nearby in his car. Mendoza told Goldberg that at first he thought Wilt was sleeping, but soon realized something was wrong. Goldberg rushed over to the house, arriving within 15 minutes, by which time paramedics were already there. But there was nothing they could do: at 12:41p.m., on Tuesday, October 12, 1999, the Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics pronounced Wilt Chamberlain dead.
He was 63.
He had died alone, just as, by his choice, he had been alone during much of his life.
Sy Goldberg observed that no one had spoken to Wilt after
his telephone conversation with Carl Green that Sunday and that when Wilt's
body was found, the roof in his bedroom was still open -- leading Goldberg
to conclude that his dear friend had probably died at some point Sunday
evening because Wilt always closed the roof during the daylight hours.
What was the cause of Wilt's death? The answer is open to speculation because no autopsy was conducted. It was, without question, not related to AIDS, as some ignorant and malicious people have stated. The certificate of death,
signed by Dr. Anthony Reid, Wilt's cardiologist, states wilt died of congestive heart failure and related cardiac disorders. There could be other medical problems that contributed to his death but, as Goldberg pointed out, no one was interested in pursuing the question of what actually caused it. "For what purpose? "Goldberg asked, implying that investigations would not bring Wilt back.
Chamberlain recently underwent dental surgery to remove teeth knocked aside during his basketball career, said his sister, Barbara Lewis. He had dropped about 50 pounds in the last month, she said.
"He said it was the worst pain. I never heard him complain about pain ever," she said during a news conference. "He said he felt worse than he ever did Saturday. He looked worse than I have ever seen him."
"He did have some problems and we think at this point it may have been a heart attack that did him in," Sy Goldberg, Chamberlain's lawyer, said.
It's too early to determine what caused the former basketball star's death Tuesday, but heart problems compounded by stress can be fatal, said Jaime Moriguchi, co-director of the clinical heart failure program at UCLA.
Wilt Chamberlain's agent Sy Goldberg said Wednesday that the Hall of Famer died of congestive heart failure, and for about a month, doctors had been draining his legs of fluid that had accumulated because of the heart problem.