Happy Birthday to the miracle man, my Father! On his 65th birthday, he stands as strong-willed as ever, fighting everything and everyone to LIVE HIS LIFE!
Today, I’d like to share something that I’ve been wanting to write for a while, but the emotionally draining process to pen this down kept me away from it. Though I feel more people need to know about a monster called ENTEROCOCCUS that hits 1 in a 1,00,000 humans in the world, and my father was that 1.
A little background on my father. He was always active, very hands-on, fun loving and responsible, until one day when he suffered a brain stroke in 2006 and had to undergo a brain bypass surgery. That day changed his and our life forever. Since then, his right side is partially numb and his speech has been affected. He never accepted his situation which fortunately helped him cope with his new way of living. And I won’t get into how we coped as a family then (it could run into pages), needless to say it was difficult.
12 years went by and we were very careful about the upkeep of his health throughout, but once again life had something different written for us.
For almost a year my father complained of uneasiness, random motions and feeling cold. We got him checked on several occasions, but all reports were absolutely normal. Through the year, as a family we speculated on what could be the cause. Had he been exerting too much? Or eating out? Or Drinking? But we couldn’t figure it out.
One day he complained of a severe back ache, to the point he couldn’t move. We hospitalised him in a nursing home for 4 days, but he still complained that he wasn’t feeling well. We then got him hospitalised under his brain surgeon, to undergo further tests, but each and every report suggested everything was absolutely normal. Except, this time he was diagnosed with diabetes, something that was in check for the last 12 years and so was very surprising to all of us. After some consultation, we headed home thinking at least now we know what’s wrong and he will be better soon.
After a week of being home from the last hospital visit, one evening he slipped in the toilet and soon after complained of numbness in his left hand. By now we were sure there was nothing, but my father was suffering and screaming for help. We rushed to the hospital, this time wondering if he was suffering a stroke again, memories from the past haunted us in those few hours.
A few tests and some hours later, the doctors found a blood clot blockage in the main vein of his left hand, which stopped the blood flow and thus the numbness. But the clot had not formed there and they couldn’t figure the source. Thereafter, we had to wait until morning for a few more tests and an endoscopy.
It’s a terrible feeling standing beside your father who is getting an endoscopy done. The doctor conducted the procedure and at the end of it informed me that my father needed to undergo an open-heart surgery immediately. I froze!
How did my father land in this situation? Had he been exerting himself too much? Eating out? Drinking? NO!My father had been infected by a bacteria called ENTEROCOCCUS under a condition called Endocarditis. How? No one had a clue.
Enterococcus is a very rare phenomenon and its source, symptoms and cure are not known. It enters the blood stream through the main vein that connects the heart and attacks the main valve — Mitral Valve. It can enter through any open wound on your body. My father did have a root canal done and the doctors suspect that the bacteria may have entered his body on that occasion.
A note for all: While one can’t always control how bacteria enters our body, it’s important to complete the suggested antibiotic course prescribed by your doctor for any disease, small or big, or you may never know when some bacteria may decide to make your body their home and destroy the rest of your life! I often stopped the prescribed medication once I felt better, but now I understand its importance.
Some other cases of similar nature which have been identified outside of India reported constant fever to be a strong symptom. In my father’s case, he’d never had fever in the entire year. It’s still a mystery the doctors don’t seem to have an answer to.
While there is no absolute antidote to eliminate this bacteria with certainty, it is advised to complete an antibiotic course (of the highest power and volume) which lasts for 6 weeks and has to be administered through the heart’s main vein, which meant inserting needles in his neck.
In my father’s case, the bacteria was vegetating on his mitral valve and had completely blocked it, which explained the urgency for the surgery, as the delay could have caused a fatal heart attack.
Due to the vegetation blocking the heart from functioning, it was highly volatile and so when my father slipped, the impact moved a chunk of the vegetation to my father’s left hand. Possibly the best thing to have happened in this situation, we all believe this saved his life. Later he had to be operated on his hand to remove this blockage too.
We spent 2 grueling months in the hospital. His operation was successful but there were too many post-surgery complications. He had to undergo a procedure 5 times to remove fluids that kept accumulating in his lungs. Nights were very difficult, due to side-effects of certain medicines. My father made weird noises and screamed, almost sounded like some paranormal activity.
Also, overall his case was critical and more complicated as he had suffered a brain stroke earlier and suddenly diabetes as well.
Of course, the costs kept increasing, but we were fortunate to have insurance which saved us from worrying about that aspect.
The fleet of doctors had become family and each one worked really hard on his case; I cannot thank each one enough for what they contributed.
It is said that the one who has to handle the situation suffers more than the one who is in the situation — it’s true.
The fear of the unknown gripped us as a family, our lives had practically stopped for 2 months and it’s a feeling I cannot explain in words.
The CCU and ICU waiting rooms are the most depressing places one can come across in their life and 2 months is a long time to spend there. We saw multiple families filled with hope one day and despair the next.
My father, like the last time, did not accept his situation and again fortunately that worked for him. The doctors called him a miracle patient as they didn’t believe he could survive this.
His life has slowed down even more, but he is still fighting, to LIVE HIS LIFE!