Below..two weeks after surgery.
When I got to the coronary ICU,my son was breathing on his own. There was a nurse in his room 24/7. He had tubes everywhere..and the tips of his fingers and the bottoms of his feet were dark purple. I was told that he had a staph infection..in his heart..and the heart was throwing toxins back into his bloodstream which ended up looking like blood blisters on his extremities. He was thrashing about, the right side of his face was sagging. His older brother, Mike, had arrived from Portland hours earlier, and had just left to go to his motel room..a block away.
The nurse told me that they suspected that Jer's aortic heart valve had been severely damaged and that he was too ill for surgery.. to replace it. He further explained that if the strong antibiotics that they were giving him (thru IV's) decreased the infection throughout his body, they might be able to operate. I asked how this happened to him.
The nurse explained that Jer admitted shooting meth..sharing needles. The staph infection came with that activity. The infection had caused Jer to have, perhaps, up to 8 strokes... which had affected his right side. I was told that his prognosis was poor. They didn't know if the antibiotics would work. Apparently, Jer had been dying in a seedy motel room for several days. When he was brought in, he had dried feces all over his lower body and had not eaten for at least 5 days. He was literally found in the motel room, by someone who came over to do drugs with him. This person took him to the ER..and carried him in.
I was speechless. I cried. I looked down at my second-born, just 26 years old. I whispered in his ear..."you fight this Jer, you'll get a new heart and a new life".
I sat by his bed for a few hours and then went over to the motel. I'd be there for the next two weeks...Jer was there for 6 weeks.
About 13 months later, he and I were standing in a copy center in Sebastopol, CA. The guy behind the counter had a big scar down his chest..like Jers. Jer asked him what happened. The guy says.."I got an infection in my heart..they don't know what caused it". Jer said, "I know what caused it. You were shooting dope, right?" The guy looked shocked. Jer showed him his chest. They both agreed that shooting dope was the end of a really bad life... and the beginning of a much better one.