Near-fatal bout leaves father blind, unable to work
by By Susan Reinhardt, SREINHARDT@CITIZEN-TIMES.COM
August 11, 2006
BLACK MOUNTAIN – 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
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
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,
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.”