Ruling Out Infection
Randolf* was 81 years old and had spent seven months in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation centers with a mysterious “infection.”
The trouble began in September 2016 after he had had a new pacemaker implanted. Within a week of the procedure, his surgery site was not healing and had begun to exude blood and other fluid. Naturally, everyone assumed it was an infection and his doctors prescribed antibiotics. After a couple of months the wound still wasn’t healing and infection-like symptoms continued.
In December, his surgeons decided to remove the pacemaker and place it on the other side of his chest. The other side almost immediately also became “infected”, and Randolf spent another three weeks in the hospital. Randolf was sent home, with wounds now on both sides of his chest. As Randolf’s health declined, the mystery deepened.
The family consulted more physicians. A plastic surgeon who was a wound specialist cauterized the wounds but, after a few days they reopened and looked worse than ever – fat, fascia, and muscle were plainly visible, and Randolf was in excruciating pain. He was sent back to the hospital and then to rehab center for two more months. The family consulted an infectious disease specialist and dermatologist. The dermatologist said Randolf had an autoimmune condition; the infectious disease doctor disagreed and continued the antibiotic treatment, which was ineffective. The family and doctors were at an impasse.
*Names are changed for privacy.