A brush with death gave Pete Jones all he needed to see that the best part of life is time spent with family.
For Pete Jones of Fairhope, Alabama, the best days in life have always been spent hunting, fishing, hanging out at the beach and watching college football with his family. Sometimes it’s a backyard barbecue surrounded by those he loves the most. A recent medical scare helped Pete see that these sorts of precious days should be the focus of his life.
“It really was a great bonding experience, despite how scary it was,” says Pete as he reflects on arriving at USA Health and the medically induced coma that followed. He had been experiencing bursts of seizures that led to speaking and memory problems.
Pete’s wife, Ashley, began noticing his confusion about certain things and his tendency to ask the same questions repeatedly. One day Ashley became more worried after a phone call to her husband.
“He was incoherent,” she recalls. “He couldn’t hold a conversation. That’s when I knew it was time to get help.”
She first took Pete to a local hospital where he spent four days. They were unable to diagnose the problem and recommended that he see a specialist. An ambulance ride later, Pete and Ashley arrived at USA Health University Hospital where a neurology team was waiting for him.
Pete was admitted under the care of Dr. Dean Naritoku, a professor and chair of USA Health’s neurology department. Dr. Naritoku and his staff began running tests and within 24 hours deduced that Pete’s condition was serious enough they would need to induce a coma. He was diagnosed with autoimmune limbic encephalitis, a rare disorder characterized by the onset of seizures, short-term memory loss, and psychiatric and behavioral symptoms. Dr. Naritoku knew that his seizures would eventually have a very negative effect on the rest of his life if not treated quickly and properly.
“I was diagnosed on my fifth day,” Pete adds. “And four of those days were spent in another hospital. Part of the beauty of USA Health is that it is also a training and teaching environment where like-minded individuals conduct research to diagnose, treat and cure. Anywhere else, the diagnosis might have been missed.”
But because he chose USA Health, Pete was able to pull a great positive out of what could have been an extremely negative situation. And his family is closer than they’ve ever been. With his faith and the support of his wife and three kids, the family bond has solidified Pete’s belief that life isn’t all about work.
“I’m using more time these days to hang out with my wife and kids,” he says. “Now that I am on the road to a full recovery, I will be able to resume all normal activities. I look forward to spending time with my family and living a fuller, richer life."