BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico family thought it was the flu, but it turned out to be much worse: the West Nile virus. It is impossible to know exactly where it happened, but the family says it was definitely in our condition.
It was Friday when She Bernal went on a family vacation, and by Monday night she was in a medically induced coma. Now, months later, Bernal is still in the hospital, battling West Nile virus.
This is not love lost; this is love forever changed.
"I told him, 'When you get better, we have to go fishing,' and he looked at me and started crying, 'She, Chase Bernal's son, said.
The days of the river, time with his family, is what She Bernal loves.
"I've spent most of my life outside with him doing the things we love," said Chase Bernal.
This is far from the life that is now living.
"Someone so wonderful and so good, who has spent all his life for you, must be trapped," said She, Mandy Bernal's wife.
Mandy Bernal and her husband She left their home in Belen in August, leaving for an emergency to treat what they consider to be flu ̵
"It took a long time to figure out what it really was," she said.
The official diagnosis of West Nile virus came when she was already in a medically induced coma.
"He will not achieve a full recovery," Mendy said.
He is awake now but has lost almost 50 pounds, cannot talk and is completely paralyzed.
"She is a very strong man, very active," says his wife. "He trains every day, eats sardines every day; he was proud of being able to keep up with Chase, so it was a real shock."
Doctors believe that the ever-active and happy She will need a wheelchair and a ventilator to breathe for the rest of her life.
"Who would know that a small mosquito can cause such damage to so many people's lives?" Mendy said.
Although they are different then and now, Bernal's family is grateful that they have not lost the man whom everyone loves so much.
"I didn't know him until my dad was able to talk to me, but I realized he was the best friend I ever had," Chase said.
"He was my best friend," Mendy said.
Bernal's long-term care will depend on his progress over the next few months, but whatever it is, it will be expensive. There's a GoFundMe built for Bernal. To donate, click here.
The Department of Health says the best way to prevent West Nile virus is to avoid mosquito bites. This year, there have been 39 cases in the state, four of which are fatal. In 2018, there were only seven cases.