Near-fatal bout leaves father blind, unable to work
by By Susan Reinhardt, SREINHARDT@CITIZEN-TIMES.COM
published August 11, 2006 12:15 am
They’d been married only a month.
And here stood the bride, Dana Goode, peering over her dying husband and facing the doctor’s words: that should her husband make it, he’d likely remain in a vegetative state for the rest of his life.
On March 24, Kevin Goode married the woman of his dreams. On April 29, he lay in the neuro-trauma unit at Mission Hospitals, delirious with a high fever, an unknown illness, and doctors frantically ordering tests and panels, working against time and a failing body to get a diagnosis and begin treatment.
Kevin Goode awakened his wife in the middle of the night on April 25, saying he didn’t feel well. The machinist and father of four, including Dana Goode’s two children by a previous marriage, burned with fever and fought off waves of intense nausea.
He took some over-the-counter medicines, thinking he’d feel well enough for work at Wright’s Tools the next morning. When he awakened, he was no better but went to work anyway. Later that day he called his wife.
“I don’t feel well,” he said. “I’d better see a doctor.”
Dana Goode said her husband reported severe head and back pain. Doctors diagnosed him that day with a migraine headache and prescribed medicine to treat the condition. Meanwhile, and unknown to anyone, a deadly bacteria coursed through his bloodstream, destroying parts of his brain.
A few days later, Dana Goode called an ambulance, and for the next couple of months, Kevin Goode fought for his life.
Of the month he was in the neurotrauma unit at Mission, he remembers nothing.
But his wife does. It was a nightmare, especially not knowing the cause of what threatened her husband’s life. A couple of days and countless tests later, they found it.
Kevin Goode had somehow become infected with listeria meningitis, a serious and sometimes fatal infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.
State officials and doctors asked Dana Goode everything from what he’d eaten to where she grocery shopped and if they’d been to a petting zoo.
“They don’t know how he got it,” she said. “It’s very uncommon for someone of his age and good health to come down with it.”
At first they thought he might have hepatitis. His white blood cell count was high, and his liver enzymes had skyrocketed.
“He became delirious,” Dana Goode said. “It was consuming his brain, and I noticed his right eye was going inward and he had double vision.”
Throughout the next month, Kevin Goode underwent eight operations and procedures, including brain surgeries.
“He fought for his life for two months,” Dana Goode said. “We had a couple of close calls including a massive seizure and intubation.”
Looking for a cause
One of the toughest parts of this was trying to figure out how and why Kevin Goode, who never smoked or drank, contracted the illness healthy people ward off with no trouble. The disease is so rare, Mission Hospitals has had only one case this year and one the previous year, according to Merrell Gregory, hospital spokesperson.
The disease is caused by consuming meats that aren’t thoroughly cooked or properly refrigerated, unwashed vegetables, raw meats touching vegetables and from ready-to-eat foods that have spoiled. It’s important to wash hands, knives and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods.
Dana Goode said they retraced every step and couldn’t find the source of her husband’s contact with the bacteria.
Recently, the disease has been identified as an important health problem in the United States, affecting primarily pregnant women, newborns, the elderly and adults with weakened or compromised immune systems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 2,500 people become seriously ill each year with listeriosis. Of these, about 500 will die.
Kevin Goode considers himself lucky, even though the disease took his vision and ability to work.
“I feel pretty good,” he said this week. “I don’t have much pain, but sometimes my stomach acts up.”
As for his blindness, he believes his eyesight will return.
“I pray every day for my vision to come back. Every now and then, I see light or a shadow.” This, he believes, is a good sign.
And while his stamina is low, Dana Goode said she tries to help him build his strength, walking around Lake Tomahawk, where he’s up to one lap.
“Family and prayers have brought him through this,” she said. “We’re just grateful he’s alive.”
Kevin Goode said the support of family and friends has brought him this far.
“My family, they just keep me going and have been real supportive,” he said. “Just don’t ever think something like this can’t happen to you, because it can. Watch what you eat.”